Day Extra State Pier is seen May 11, 2005, in New London. Connecticut Port Authority

Connecticut strikes deal for offshore wind hub in New London

New London — The state has reached a harbor development agreement and announced the start of a $93 million investment at State Pier, the beginning of what state officials foresee as the transformation of an underutilized port into a hub for the offshore wind industry.

Gov. Ned Lamont visited City Pier on Thursday to announce the private-public partnership and lease agreement between the Connecticut Port Authority, pier operator Gateway and Bay State Wind, which is a joint venturebetween offshore wind giant Ørsted and Eversource.

The news comes a day after Gateway New London LLC took over as port operator as part of a 20-year agreement. Gateway also operates New Haven's port.

“Connecticut’s maritime economy has significant potential to drive economic growth and create jobs across the state, and redeveloping State Pier is a central component to that growth,” Lamont said. “This new public-private partnership reaffirms the unwavering commitment of the state to increase procurement of offshore wind and make the economic expansion of our maritime economy a reality.”

The Connecticut Port Authority will oversee a project at State Pier with an aggressive timeline to upgrade the infrastructure and add heavy-lift capacity to accommodate components of offshore wind turbines. After a design and permitting phase, construction tentatively is scheduled to start in January 2020 and finish by March 2022, Connecticut Port Authority Chairman Scott Bates said.

Prior to Thursday’s announcement, the Port Authority voted at a special meeting to prepare permit applications and hire AECOM Technical Services at a cost of $794,790 for the permitting and contract bid development. During that meeting, Noank farmer Kevin Blacker criticized the board's closed-door negotiations throughout the process.

The completion of the project will be followed by the signing of a 10-year lease agreement with an option to extend for seven years.

The $93 million public-private partnership includes $35.5 million from the state and a $57.5 million investment by Ørsted and Eversource, including $2.5 million to the Port Authority to offset operational costs.

Ørsted previously had committed $22.5 million after Connecticut secured 300 megawatts from Ørsted’s Revolution Wind farm south of Martha’s Vineyard. Ørsted and Eversource jointly have agreed to add $35 million as part of the new agreement.

“We look forward to continue working with the state, the City of New London and our partners the Connecticut Port Authority and Gateway Terminal, as we drive towards a green economy, bring more sources of clean energy to Connecticut, and ultimately lower carbon emissions for our planet,” said Thomas Brostrøm, Ørsted president of North America and Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind CEO.

The Port Authority also will receive annual $3 million payments and be eligible for a completion bonus if the project is done by March 2022.

Bates said jobs will be created for the local workforce as construction starts at the port, and more will be created for the regional manufacturing workforce for building components of the offshore wind turbines. Longer term, Bates said, the increase in activity at the pier will benefit the job market statewide.

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