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July 8, 2024 Opinion & Commentary

Opinion: Collaboration is key to tackling CT’s challenges; offshore wind industry provides test case

Tony Sheridan

A recent trip to view the first-ever utility-scale offshore wind farm in the United States, not far off the coast of Connecticut, recalled a boyhood dream to one day emigrate to America.

I was about 12 or 13 years old, and I remember succinctly the excitement of hearing about the great things that happened in America. The skyscrapers, the great bridges, the big cars and movies, to name a few. This was in the late 1950s and early ‘60s.

There was one black and white television in the local pub that a limited number of kids were allowed to watch on a Saturday afternoon. As children, we had to work together, collaborate and negotiate with each other to determine who got to watch the TV program.

So, how does my childhood memory connect to the offshore wind farm off our Connecticut shore? Collaboration is the lifeblood of innovation, solution-building and progress. Nowhere is there a better example of the monumental applications of these critical efforts than the offshore wind project.

The success of the wind farm resulted, in great measure, because of the collaboration between three major entities: our Connecticut government, Eversource and Orsted, all in the best interest of the state, our citizens and our response to climate change.

I was one of roughly 150 guests, including state and local officials, Eversource and Orsted employees, and media, on a ferry ride to visit the offshore wind farm. Getting that up-close look at the newly completed South Fork Wind project in the Atlantic Ocean — just off the coast of Montauk Point, New York — and seeing the magnificent and monstrous machines spinning to produce energy left us all in awe.

For me, it was not only breathtaking and incredibly fascinating — it gave me a sense of pride in the major role our state plays in the burgeoning offshore wind industry, something all Connecticut residents should be proud of.

With the redevelopment of the State Pier in New London, Connecticut has been at the center of the effort to launch the U.S. offshore wind industry, while creating hundreds of well-paying jobs. The State Pier is where the turbines, blades and nacelles for these projects are being staged and assembled, and then shipped out to the wind farm location for final construction.

All of this results from daily collaboration between several entities, workers, management and shipping, working in tandem to develop this new-to-the-U.S. industry for the state and our region, while addressing our climate concerns.

The 12 turbines now anchored to the ocean floor proudly stand as the first utility-scale offshore wind farm in the United States. They are generating enough clean energy to power 70,000 homes in East Hampton, New York.

Eversource, New England’s largest energy delivery company, and Ørsted, a global leader in offshore wind, are responsible for making this renewable energy source a reality, and they’re already building the next offshore wind farm — Revolution Wind.

The 65 wind turbines in that project will deliver clean, renewable power to more than 350,000 residents in Connecticut and Rhode Island in 2025.

These are exciting times in Connecticut, with the state, Eversource, Orsted, along with many other entities working together to make it all happen. It is what successful partnerships can accomplish, and we need more of it.

Collaboration is how we will successfully tackle the big challenges we face. Not doing so will result in failure.

The completion of South Fork Wind and the upcoming Revolution Wind projects, along with the successful development of the State Pier, prove America can tackle the major issues that climate change is bringing to us.

These combined industrial efforts, supported by a regulatory and political environment, is what is needed to continue building on that progress.

Our challenges in this new, ever-changing world we live in will be manageable if we work together for the betterment of all.

Tony Sheridan is the president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut.

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