The power we use every day in Connecticut is generated almost entirely from natural gas and the Millstone Nuclear Plant in Waterford. But soon there will be a new source of renewable, clean energy powering homes in New England every time the wind blows.
Offshore wind will revolutionize Connecticut’s power grid. It’s new, it’s surprisingly cheap and soon giant wind turbines will be popping up off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, powering hundreds of thousands of homes throughout New England.
On Block Island a farm of towering wind turbines is spinning off Mohegan Bluffs. This is the first offshore wind farm in America, but it won’t be the last.
"The areas that are currently designated as wind turbine areas off southern New England are affectionately known as the Saudi Arabia of wind,” said Matthew Morrissey of Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind.
New England’s fickle weather – from nor’easters to tropical storms, make it perfectly suited for wind power. Connecticut and Rhode Island entered an agreement with Eversource and Ørsted, a Danish company, to build 700 megawatts of wind turbines halfway between Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island. It will be called Revolution Wind.
"Offshore wind is one of the most exciting resources we're seeing in the northeast right now,” said Mary Sotos, deputy commissioner for Energy at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protect.
"We've been working with our neighboring states to be able to purchase large quantities of that wind,” she explained.
"Offshore wind power is going to be around for a long time and provide clean, renewable power at competitive rates to rate payers in New England," Morrissey said.
Connecticut’s first offshore wind farm will begin construction in 2021 and be operational by 2023. The 70 turbines will power roughly 100,000 homes in the state and an additional quarter million homes in Rhode Island.
A commitment to revitalize and develop the harbor in New London was one of the reasons Ørsted's bid was so attractive.
"We're seeing a real commitment to work with our prized port because it has so many features that are really well suited to assemble these large components," Sotos said.
Ørsted, Eversource and the state will invest $93 million into New London’s State Pier, creating jobs and building the infrastructure to support the burgeoning wind industry from New Jersey to Cape Cod.
"There will also be additive economic investment and development with companies in the supply chain that will participate, compete and win to help build America's first round of offshore wind farms," Morrissey said.
While this will be the state's first foray into offshore wind there's no sign of the momentum stopping. The legislature is contemplating upping the state's commitment to wind energy in the future with up to a third of our energy coming from the wind in the coming decades.