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Offshore Wind Could Be A Boon To New London's Port

Ryan Caron King
The nation's first off-shore wind farm off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island in October 2016.

Three developers have submitted bids to sell offshore wind to Connecticut. That could mean big things for New London's economy, but officials and advocates said the state needs to act fast to ensure it doesn't miss the boat.

All proposals would be built in federal waters off the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. That means you won’t see big wind turbines when you visit the beach.

But Scott Bates, chair of the Connecticut Port Authority, said he’d like to see wind turbines at state ports. Bates said the New London State Pier is well-positioned to assemble and service turbines.

“You're talking about a lot of jobs that are based on the waterfront. These are blue-collar type jobs and also advanced manufacturing jobs that are enough for a family in Connecticut to earn a good living on,” Bates said.

All three developers -- Deepwater Wind, Orsted/Eversource, and Vineyard Wind -- mention New London in their bids, as a potential staging ground for construction or maintenance.

Emily Lewis with the environmental advocacy group Acadia Center, said it's good the state is trying to get power from offshore wind. But she and Bates both said Connecticut needs to act fast. That’s because Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey all have more aggressive offshore wind goals.

“If Connecticut comes in strong with a big commitment to offshore wind, they're more likely to get those economic development benefits,” Lewis said. “Whereas, if they don't, the other states will get it and then Connecticut will just be using those ports for their own construction.”

Connecticut is expected to announce if it has selected any of these offshore wind projects in June.

“It’s really the 21st-century version of the maritime economy,” Bates said. “That would give new skills to our maritime workers.”  

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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