- Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) selected Vineyard Wind's 804 MW offshore wind bid on Thursday, nearly six months after Gov. Ned Lamont, D, signed legislation requiring a state solicitation for up to 2,000 MW of offshore wind.
- The Park City Wind Project is the developer's second offshore wind project in the U.S. and will be built in the same federal waters lease area as its 800 MW project that will power Massachusetts. The project involves building out the Bridgeport waterfront into an offshore wind port, to enable construction of the heavy turbines.
- Vineyard Wind will now enter into contract negotiations with Connecticut electric distribution companies based on the DEEP selection.
Vineyard Wind is aiming to become a top tier U.S. offshore wind supplier. As part of its agreement with Connecticut, the developer is also partnering with a transmission cable manufacturing company to develop the offshore wind port facility.
"This [project] will add significantly to the development of the offshore wind supply chain and economic development all along the coast of New England," Liz Burdock, president and CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, said in a statement.
The manufacturing and assembly needs for the large offshore structures require special-made deep water port infrastructure that the U.S. is currently missing.
Several offshore wind developers have announced plans to similarly build out offshore wind deep water ports in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland.
The facility would take 18 to 24 months to get ready and, depending on permitting, construction in Bridgeport could begin as early as May 2021, Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Thaaning Pedersen told reporters on Thursday. Thousands of construction jobs will be created by the project and 100 people would be employed for the operation of Park City and the port.
The Park City project will need Connecticut-specific permits for transforming Barnum Landing, Pedersen said. Vineyard Wind announced in October a partnership with McAllister Towing to build out the area.
Connecticut's DEEP had released its first request for proposals (RFP) dedicated to offshore wind development in August for up to 2,000 MW, and Vineyard Wind had submitted bids for as much as 1,200 MW in September. The state previously bought 304 MW of offshore wind in a multi-resource RFP in 2018 from the joint venture between Eversource Energy and Danish wind developer Ørsted. Eversource and Ørsted also plan to build an offshore wind hub in New London, Connecticut.
Environmental groups hailed the buildout as a crucial step after DEEP approved the development of a 650 MW gas plant.
"Governor Lamont needs to stop new fossil fuel infrastructure buildout and fully commit our state to renewable development like the 804 megawatt offshore wind project announced today," Samantha Dynowski, Sierra Club's Connecticut state director, said in a statement.
The project is not contingent on any specific tax incentive, but would utilize tax credits if they become available. Pedersen said Park City project will be fully financed by shareholders.
"We have talked about our previous project ... being around $3 billion," Pedersen said, adding that Vineyard has not disclosed a specific number for the multi-billion investment needed for Park City.
Permitting hurdles ahead
The 804 MW facility will be constructed in the same lease block as the company's first U.S. offshore wind project and use the same transmission corridor to bring the energy onshore. The corridor is located in a Massachusetts town where the developer has an existing host community agreement.
"This project would be very much a copy of our first project," Pedersen said.
In addition to its Connecticut state permits, Park City will require local Bridgeport permits, Massachusetts state permits and a federal permit.
Vineyard faced delays for its Massachusetts project and was ordered by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to conduct additional study on the project in August. Learning from that experience, Vineyard will be able to incorporate that level of planning "in a much earlier" stage of the permitting for its second project, Pedersen said.
"[W]hen you develop one project that becomes part of a rapidly developing industry where more projects are coming in the near future ... you need to have wider coordination than we probably anticipated ... in 2017," he said.
Learning from its first project's federal permitting process has led to a "wide ranging proposal" submitted to the Coast Guard last month to ensure turbine layout in the leasing area for safe navigation, transportation and search and rescue between Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.