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UConn partners with Eversource, Orsted to study impact of offshore wind on marine life

Dr. Annemarie Seifer (center), Dean of UConn Avery Point, accepts the $1.25 million check.
Brian Scott-Smith
Dr. Annemarie Seifer (center), Dean of UConn Avery Point, accepts the $1.25 million check.

Energy companies Ørsted and Eversource are partnering with the University of Connecticut to research the impact of offshore wind farms on marine ecosystems.

The companies will spend $1.25 million on the project with UConn, which will be based at their Avery Point campus.

Evan Ward, head of the Marine Sciences Department at Avery Point, said the school brings a wealth of expertise to the project.

“Multidisciplinary faculty whose work focuses on human interactions with the environment, who work across a range of physical, chemical and biological processes,” Ward said. “It also includes our 90-foot research vessel, the RV Connecticut, autonomous underwater vehicles and deployable sensors. State of the art analytical laboratories and advanced numerical modeling capabilities.”

Ørsted and Eversource are currently working on offshore wind projects for New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

State Senator Heather Somers (R-Groton) sits on the state's Environmental Standards Committee for Offshore Wind. She said those projects have made some of her constituents weary.

“I also represent the last commercial fishing fleet here in Connecticut and they are very concerned about the impacts of offshore wind,” Somers said. “This research and the study of the habitat of fisheries will really help them and help us move forward together in collaborating where wind and fisheries can coexist in a positive way.”

Ørsted and Eversource has two other partners in separate projects. They are Project Oceanology, which creates learning materials and experiences for students in grades K-12, and Mystic Aquarium, which are studying the effects of offshore wind turbines on marine mammals and sea turtles.

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.