December 20, 2018

CT wind, fuel cell projects win long-term contracts

Deepwater Wind
Deepwater Wind
A rendering of wind turbines 15 miles south of the Rhode Island coast.

Regulators have OK'd contracts for five major renewable energy projects in Connecticut, which will sell electricity to the state's two public utilities.

The approved 20-year agreements, which were greenlit by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, include the state's first offshore wind project, Revolution Wind, that will generate 200 megawatts of electricity.

Also approved were contracts for four fuel-cell developments, including a nearly 20-megawatt project on the historic Stanley Black & Decker manufacturing campus in New Britain. Others are located in Hartford, Colchester and Derby.

In all, the five projects total 252 megawatts of generating capacity, and are expected to produce 4.6 percent of the state's annual energy consumption. The utilities -- Eversource and United Illuminating -- intend to sell the acquired clean energy into the ISO-New England market, PURA said.

Developers for all five projects bid this year into a competitive, state-led request for proposals. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced winning bidders in June.

A sixth DEEP-selected bidder did not get an approved contract this week.

PURA said the developer of the 1.6-megawatt Turning Earth Central Connecticut anaerobic digestion project was unable to pay a required security payment to United Illuminating.

DEEP has informally requested that the utilities hold open the possibility of a future contract for the project, PURA said.

Alleged pivot on turbine bases could dampen CT economic boon

Despite the contract approval for Revolution Wind, a coalition of environmental groups and labor unions that have cheered the advent of offshore wind energy in Connecticut voiced displeasure on Wednesday.

The coalition wrote to ěrsted, the Danish company that acquired Revolution Wind's developer, Deepwater Wind, in October for $510 million, expressing concerns about the project's economic and environmental ramifications.

At issue is the type of bases that will anchor the dozens of planned wind turbines to the seafloor.

The coalition's letter, signed by the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, Connecticut Citizen Action Group, numerous trade unions and others, charged that ěrsted has ruled out using a "gravity-based" system of turbine bases, despite what it said were prior assurances that the developer was considering using them.

Such foundations can be towed out to sea, before being weighted and sunk, and don't need sea cranes for installation. There's lower impact to the environment because the foundations are not driven into the seafloor, the letter said.

It also said gravity-based foundations could be manufactured locally in eastern Connecticut, creating a greater local economic impact.

The coalition was reacting to a comment it said an ěrsted project development manager made last week at a public gathering in New London. Ryan Chaytors reportedly said the company couldn't locally produce gravity bases in the quantity and scale it needed.

The coalition wrote that the company merely needs to invest enough in local construction sites.

"The premature rejection of the gravity-based system prior to completion of geotechnical surveys and a thorough exploration of local partnerships that could meet the production demands would be very unfortunate and could make it more challenging for us to build the broad public support we want for expanding offshore wind in Connecticut," the coalition's letter concluded.

ěrsted didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

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