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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

First offshore wind farm to power CT homes wins final OK

Revolution Wind, an offshore wind project to provide electricity to Connecticut and Rhode island and one of the relatively few in the northeast to emerge intact from a flurry of economic setbacks, has received final, government approval to begin construction.

It will be the first utility scale offshore wind farm serving the two states and is on track to be the second in the northeast. The project is designed to deliver 400 megawatts of electricity to Rhode Island another 304 to Connecticut, powering the equivalent of 350,000 homes and helping both states meet their aggressive carbon reduction goals.

The final approval by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is a rare, recent win for the capital intensive offshore wind industry, which has been nearly sunk over the last two years by a combination of inflation, rising interest rates and supply chain failures.

Revolution Wind, which will soon rise over a windy stretch of ocean south of Block Island, is a joint project of regional utility Eversource and the Danish multinational Orsted. Unlike other offshore developers, the partners locked in costs for Revolution Wind and two other projects planned for the same area — Sunrise and Southfork Wind — before inflation and interest rates shot up and the war in Ukraine created global supply chain problems.

Avangrid cancels CT offshore energy project, wants to rebid, as industry hit by adverse economic head winds

Several other projects across the northeast have become money losers as construction and finance costs outstrip the projected profit in energy contracts drawn after power auctions by state regulators.

Spanish energy giant Avangrid has closed projects and faces cancellation penalties in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Orsted’s stock has plunged 75 percent from its 2021 high in part because of its cancellation of New Jersey- based projects. Projects are at risk in New York and Massachusetts. And Eversource has said it is selling out of the offshore wind business.

Revolution Wind is a bright spot in an otherwise bleak picture. It and the other two Eversource-Orsted projects will be built and supplied from the newly rebuilt State Pier in New London, where Orsted has been stockpiling the enormous blades, turbines and blades since early last summer.

The Eversource-Orsted partnership picked about a third of the approximately $300 million pier rebuild cost and it is committed to paying another $20 million to lease the pier as an offshore support base for the next decade.

“Today’s final federal approval from the Biden Administration clears the way for the first direct infusion of carbon-free energy via offshore wind into Connecticut and the region,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, whose second district includes New London. “The Revolution Wind project will create hundreds of good-paying jobs at the State Pier in New London.”

Gov. Ned Lamont said, “This is yet another positive development that gets us closer to Connecticut’s first offshore wind farm. Wind power remains a key part of our clean energy strategy and ensuring we provide families and businesses with clean, reliable and affordable power.”

Orsted has said that Revolution Wind will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs, as well as permanent operations and maintenance jobs across both states.

The 300-foot tall towers will be shipped from New London to a government-approved location about 30 miles south of Rhode Island. They will sit on 40-foot high, 120-ton concrete foundations fabricated in Rhode Island.

Revolution Wind’s energy will reach the New England electric grid by cable to Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

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