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DEEP selects Vineyard Wind in latest round of offshore wind bids

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced Thursday that it has selected Vineyard Wind, which has proposed a major investment in Bridgeport Harbor, to provide 804 megawatts of offshore wind power to Connecticut.

DEEP said the project represents the largest purchase of renewable energy in Connecticut's history and will provide the equivalent of 14 percent of the state's electricity supply. The project, dubbed Park City Wind, is expected to be operational in 2025.

The New Bedford, Mass.-based Vineyard Wind, a pairing of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables, was competing against the joint venture of Ørsted and Eversource known as Constitution Wind, as well as Mayflower Wind, an alliance of Shell New Energies and EDPR Renewables North America.

The state could have awarded as much as 2,000 megawatts, per legislation passed last year. Kristina Rozek, spokeswoman for DEEP, said the department does not plan to award any other bids in the near future.

The selection of Vineyard Wind is a blow to southeastern Connecticut. Ørsted-Eversource had promised $100 million to a variety of local agencies and initiatives if selected by the state. That money included an earlier commitment by the companies of $57.5 million to upgrade State Pier in New London in connection with their Revolution Wind farm project. That project will supply 300 megawatts of offshore wind power to Connecticut, a result of an earlier request for proposals.

Negotiations surrounding the redevelopment of the pier are ongoing. Ørsted-Eversource said in a statement that they “remain committed to our investment in New London State Pier and look forward to finalizing our definitive agreement with the Connecticut Port Authority to transform the pier into a world-class offshore wind center.”

Mayor Michael Passero said New London would have received millions of dollars under the commitment from Ørsted-Eversource.

"We're very disappointed. It's a great loss to the economy of southeastern Connecticut," Passero said. "But we understand DEEP was looking out for the larger base of ratepayers with the bids."

Passero said he continues to lobby the state to provide revenue to New London to make up for the lost property taxes from State Pier, a state-owned facility.

Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen, in a statement Thursday, pointed to potential for both New London and Bridgeport's roles in supporting the offshore wind industry, a point he made when meeting with The Day's editorial board last month.

"Today's announcement takes Connecticut one step closer to being the epicenter of the new offshore wind industry, with thriving ports in both Bridgeport and New London," Pedersen said. "We look forward to building on the work already underway with a network of project partners, local officials, the maritime community, other developers, and all stakeholders involved to make Connecticut a hub for the offshore wind industry in the United States for decades to come."

Vineyard Wind 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.

The project includes an estimated $890 million in economic development in Connecticut, including Bridgeport Harbor and the local supply chain, DEEP said. Vineyard Wind estimates 2,800 jobs will be created in the state throughout the project.

Gov. Ned Lamont in a statement said this "sets up Connecticut as a regional leader in the creation of a thriving industry that will bring tangible benefits for our state and the entire region."

Vineyard Wind now will begin negotiations with the state's two electric utilities, United Illuminating Company and Eversource, for a 20-year contract. The contract is subject to review and approval by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.

j.bergman@theday.com

Editor's Note: This version clarifies that Ørsted-Eversource and the port authority continue to negotiate a redevelopment plan for State Pier.

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