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State and national leaders tout State Pier project at press conference

Gov. Ned Lamont was joined by U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Rep. Joe Courtney at the State Pier on Friday to tout the offshore wind farm being constructed by Eversource and Danish company Ørsted.

The expansive and jovial group of state, business and labor leaders emphasized the transition to renewable energy to secure energy independence and reduce national reliance on oil and gas.

Gov. Lamont said the offshore wind project is a step toward the electric grid being “92 percent carbon free” through a combination of nuclear power and other renewable sources like wind to not only reduce carbon emission but ensure energy stability in the future.

“I want to make sure our energy future isn’t dictated by potentates in Saudi Arabia or Russia, that we control more and more of our energy future,” Lamont said. “This is one more step, we’re able to do that.”

“This is the Holy Grail of public policy,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-CT. “Offshore wind gets you tons of jobs in the short-term, it gets you tons of local economic development in the long run, it makes the country more secure, and it helps save the planet. What other investment gets you all of that all at once?”

The development of the State Pier project is expected to bring hundreds of union construction jobs to the worksite and the Pier will be used as a staging area for the construction of several wind farms off the coast. 

However, as joyous as the numerous politicians and leaders were at the press conference, the State Pier project has been mired in controversy since the start, including project costs growing from $93 million to $235 million, construction delays, some questionable contracting practices and a federal investigation into Kosta Diamantis, the former deputy director for the Office of Policy and Management who was overseeing the State Pier project.

[For more on the State Pier project controversies, including a time-line, check here and here]

Eversource is also guaranteed a set rate for selling electricity generated by the offshore wind farm that is higher than the average rate per megawatt hour for electricity generated through natural gas and nuclear power. 

Both Eversource and United Illuminating will be required to purchase a set amount of wind-generated electricity through a purchase power agreement with the State of Connecticut.

Speakers credited President Joe Biden’s leadership on moving the country to renewable energy like wind and Orsted secured a major project labor agreement with the North American Building Trades Union to construct the company’s offshore wind projects, according to the AFL-CIO.

“If you want to see the future of energy in the country, come here, come to New London and come to the State Pier,” Sen. Blumenthal said. “This is the future of energy in America, right here, and New London is leading the way.”

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Marc E. Fitch, Senior Investigative Reporter

Marc E. Fitch

Marc worked as an investigative reporter for Yankee Institute and was a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow. He previously worked in the field of mental health is the author of several books and novels, along with numerous freelance reporting jobs and publications. Marc has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Western Connecticut State University.

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