Vineyard Wind CEO sees both New London and Bridgeport as viable wind hubs
New London — The CEO of Vineyard Wind, one of the companies vying to supply offshore wind power to Connecticut, said, by his estimate, 10 ports need to be developed up and down the Eastern Seaboard to support the industry.
And he sees both Bridgeport and New London as viable options.
States along the Eastern Seaboard have set goals of buying 25,000 megawatts of offshore wind power over the next 10 years, enough to power 12.5 million homes.
"That's a $100 billion investment opportunity," said Lars Pedersen, CEO of Vineyard Wind. "That's why we're here. It's a $100 billion investment that will go into the Atlantic Seaboard and of course we want to be part of that."
Pedersen asked to sit down with The Day's editorial board Thursday while in the area meeting with stakeholders.
Vineyard Wind, a joint venture of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables, submitted several different projects, from 400 megawatts to up to 1,200 megawatts, to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to provide Connecticut electricity from offshore wind farms. A decision by DEEP is expected later this month.
Ørsted and Eversource, which are hoping to transform New London's port into a hub for the offshore wind industry, and Mayflower Wind, a joint venture of Shell New Energies and EDPR Renewables North America, also responded to the state's request for proposal seeking up to 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind power.
Ørsted and Eversource already are slated to provide Connecticut and Rhode Island a combined 700 megawatts from the Revolution Wind farm south of Martha's Vineyard. The companies have committed $57.5 million for upgrades to New London's port as part of their offshore wind project.
Vineyard Wind, which has two leases in waters south of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, wants to transform Barnum Landing, an underused part of Bridgeport Harbor, into a manufacturing and staging facility for the offshore wind industry, and later into a long-term hub for workers servicing the turbines, which have a life cycle of 25 to 30 years. Pedersen said an estimated 100 "people on our payroll" would be performing the maintenance work. He said his company would need to be awarded a contract for a minimum of 800 megawatts to make the proposed upgrades to Bridgeport.
Pedersen said his company was one of the first to "jump in large scale" to the burgeoning offshore wind industry in the U.S., recognizing that the Atlantic seaboard is primed for the opportunity, given strong and consistent winds at sea, relatively shallow water, a large contingent of people living along the coastline and states retiring their nuclear and fossil fuel plants and turning more to renewable energy.
While Vineyard Wind is in competition with Ørsted and Eversource on getting the contract with the state, Pedersen said both New London and Bridgeport could be developed into offshore wind hubs.
"The question is not either-or, it's Bridgeport, New London and then some," he said.
These projects take on two phases, Pederson said. The first is installing "everything you can't see," such as the underwater cables and the foundations, and the second involves installing the turbines. A staging area is needed for each phase.
"So just for one project, you actually need to find two port facilities," he said. "If you have multiple projects in parallel ... you simply need more facilities."