The Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) will return to the State Bond Commission at their meeting this Friday, June 30th to request $30 million in additional state funds to complete the State Pier project.
This additional funding will put the project over $309 million in total investments from both the state and private partnerships. At least $180 million has so far been provided by the state. This new funding would bring that up to $210 million.
The new request comes just over a year after CPA Board Chairman David Kooris assured state lawmakers that the 2022 round of funding would be the last required to finish the project.
The State Pier project has been plagued by delays and cost overruns that ballooned the price tag from an early estimate of $90 million to $255 million and, should the State Bond Commission approve the new request, to $309 million. Some of the cost increases were attributed to unforeseen problems with demolition and construction.
In May, CPA interim President Ulysses Hammond said in a response to questions from Sen. Heather Somers (R-Groton) that the final costs for the project were still unknown even to him.
“We do not know that number today because of a series of ongoing negotiations with our contractor, Kiewit, and our partners,” Hammond wrote at the time. “However, as stated above, our plan is to advise you and your colleagues before anything is shared publicly and before action is taken by our Board once an agreement is reached.”
In addition to the cost overruns, the project has been at the center of ethics violations, statutory contracting issues, a pending federal investigation tied to Kosta Diamantis, (former deputy secretary for the Office of Policy and Management) and a pending lawsuit by a contractor for unpaid invoices.
Ultimately, the expanded pier is intended for use as a staging area for offshore wind projects which should add wind power to Connecticut’s grid system. On Wednesday, the first turbine towers were delivered by ship to the pier in New London. These will be used to assemble the first four wind turbines at the Gateway Terminal and are expected to be ready sometime in August or September.
The growing price tag, though, has some concerned that the pier may not be able to return its investment.
“I was trying to keep the faith, but every so often that faith was messed up by (asking for) more money,” State Rep. Anthony Nolan (D-New London) told The Day on Thursday.
When the State Pier project was initially conceived, it was partially funded by Northeast Offshore, a company made up of Danish wind power giant Ørsted and New England’s Eversource Energy. The company had invested in the Revolution Wind project off the coast of Rhode Island, for which turbines would be assembled at the pier.
Just over a month ago, however, Eversource announced it was divesting from wind projects, including Revolution Wind and two other wind farms. Ørsted, however, seems to be moving forward without them, though the split has not been fully completed.
The Bond Commission meeting will be held at 10:30 am on Friday in room 1E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.