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New London State Pier takes another step toward becoming an offshore wind hub

Kim Hansen / Wikimedia Commons

The Connecticut Port Authority received a federal permit to begin some of the dredging work necessary to begin the redevelopment of State Pier in New London. This came after the quasi-state agency missed several self-imposed deadlines and finally granted a greenlight from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers almost nine months overdue.

The port authority missed deadlines from its contractual agreement with offshore wind joint development partners Ørsted and Eversource in September and October to get a federal work permit to begin in-water construction for the redevelopment of State Pier in anticipation of offshore wind construction in the Atlantic Ocean.

“With the receipt of the Army Corps permits, State Pier has cleared the last major remaining regulatory hurdle, and construction of the full project scope can now proceed,” Ørsted and Eversource said in a statement. “When complete, State Pier will be transformed from a long-underutilized asset into a modern, heavy-lift capable facility, delivering well-paying jobs and economic investment to New London while positioning Connecticut as a regional hub for offshore wind for decades to come.”

During the authority’s final board meeting of the year, David Kooris, the board chair, remained optimistic about the cost and time schedule for the project despite a large dredging aspect of the project being pushed back almost a year because of the delayed federal permit.

“Our city may not be large, but it has always played a major role in Connecticut, punching above its weight. And now the eyes of the world will be on our city as we become a hub for the production of technology to support renewable energy,” New London Mayor Michael Passero said in a statement.

The project was originally slated to cost around $93 million but ballooned to $235 million in recent months. It is still unclear whether costs could rise again due to the delays the project has suffered to date.

In a statement, a Port Authority spokesperson said finalization of the project costs and schedule will be discussed with all project partners, now that the final permits are in hand. They said they hope to update the board at a meeting in early 2022.

Kevin Blacker, a New London business owner and frequent critic of the authority, told the board that their words had become “meaningless” because of promises they couldn’t keep. And new board member Felix Reyes, the director of economic development and planning for the city of New London, said the project had a perception problem in the eyes of the public. He said the authority needed to work to improve that in the new year.

Officials said the state and its partners — Eversource, Ørstead and Gateway — are committed to developing the State Pier to be a hub for the offshore wind industry.

“This project positions New London to become the premier commercial east coast hub for the offshore wind sector,” Governor Ned Lamont said in a statement. “Connecticut remains a leader in the transition to renewable energy and the fight against climate change.”

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.