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New London ponders future benefits of State Pier

January 12, 2019

New London — As northeastern states boost their reliance on renewable energy, New London State Pier has potential as a long-term player in the emerging offshore wind industry.

However, what that will look like hinges on negotiations between the international energy company Orsted, the recently selected pier operator Gateway New London LLC, the Connecticut Port Authority and city leaders.

Orsted is not part of Gateway’s 20-year contract to operate State Pier, even though over the last few months Orsted officials laid out a vision of working with Gateway to help transform State Pier into a world-class offshore wind hub supporting upcoming projects and potentially drawing suppliers and manufacturers to the region.

And while Orsted’s 200-megawatt Revolution Wind project picked up steam last month, when regulators approved an additional 100 megawatts in the state’s zero-carbon electricity auction, the 800-megawatt Constitution Wind farm proposed by Orsted and Eversource lost out in the auction, which saw regulators tap Millstone Power Station for the bulk of incoming power.

Meanwhile, with State Pier benefitting from almost 22.5 million the company has committed to infrastructure upgrades. “At the same time, we’ll be continuing our dialogue with the state about how New London can be best positioned to become a major hub in the East Coast offshore wind industry.”

Port Authority officials and Matthew Satnick, co-CEO and chairman of Enstructure, Gateway’s financial partner, said the parties could not comment on negotiations. But Satnick said Gateway was “working closely with the Connecticut Port Authority and the major offshore wind companies to realize the offshore wind opportunity for New London State Pier.”

Port Authority Chairman Scott Bates described Gateway as “a world-class operation” with expertise at creating jobs for local workers. He said Gateway’s proposal, which should create at least four dozen direct port operations jobs, “matched our vision of enhancing the maritime economy of the state.”

“Now the real work can begin,” he added. “Choosing a terminal operator had to come first, and we wanted someone willing to pursue a mix of traditional business and opportunities in the emerging power sector of offshore wind,” he said.

Lamont ‘looking forward’ to New London investments

Seven states have committed to build more than 10 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is looking to lease more swaths of federal waters to developers.

John Humphries, lead organizer of the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, emphasized “how important it is for the new administration and legislature to take immediate and bold steps to clarify the state’s long-term commitment to offshore wind procurement. We need to act quickly to ensure that Connecticut gets a significant share of the clean energy and local investment as the new industry rapidly expands in the coming years.”

Maribel La Luz, director of communications for Gov. Ned Lamont, who campaigned on continued reductions to greenhouse gases and ramping up renewable energy, said Friday that the state should be “proud of the gains for the environment and economy from the current agreements.”

“Governor Lamont is looking forward to further responsible investments that will make New London the regional wind-power hub for a generation to come,” she added.

Bates has said it could cost almost 25 million in pier upgrades through the state Bonding Commission and 30 million for equipment and maintenance at the pier.

No offshore wind firm submitted an independent proposal to run the pier, the Port Authority said. Satnick said the state’s zero-carbon selections did not factor into Gateway and Orsted’s collaboration.

Port Authority open to new deal with city

Initially planned by Block Island Wind Farm developer Deepwater Wind before an acquisition by Denmark-based Orsted, Revolution Wind will deliver power from federal waters south of Martha’s Vineyard to Rhode Island and Connecticut by 2023. Oceanographic surveys and permitting work for the project is underway, with Orsted planning to use New London to build a substation and perform secondary steel fabrication.

Deepwater Wind pledged an annual 165,000 for the State Pier property through the state’s PILOT program. By comparison, the New Haven port nets the city of New Haven nearly 185,000 purchase price of the land, and requests a long-term lease and taxes on the fully assessed value of the property. Additionally, the city calls for a percentage of revenues from State Pier operations and for the Port Authority to sponsor legislation that gives the city a seat on the Port Authority. It also asks the Port Authority to take responsibility for the abatement of the property and demolition of the high-rise buildings.

Bates noted that the Port Authority’s request for proposals for a pier operator did not include the Crystal Avenue property because it’s outside of the State Pier facility.

“But if you look at that property, you can see it could be useful in a port district,” he added.

Asked about the next steps for State Pier, Bates said officials are determining overall infrastructure costs, reviewing designs and boring between piers “to see what we need to do to make upgrades there. I want to get to work yesterday, but we’ll be talking with our partners.”

b.kail@theday.com

g.smith@theday.com

j.bergman@theday.com

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