By Luther Turmelle | New Haven Register | Thursday, September 21, 2017 | www.nhregister.com
WALLINGFORD – Locating more wind power projects in Connecticut and along New England’s coastal waters would boost the state’s economy and reduce its reliance on power produced by the Millstone Nuclear power plant in Waterford, officials with labor and environmental groups said Wednesday at an energy forum.
The forum, organized by the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, was held at the Wallingford headquarters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 90 . It is part of an effort to gain support from state lawmakers for more renewable energy projects.
“Offshore wind has an opportunity to help the state transition from Millstone,” said Kerry Schlichting, a policy advocate with Acadia, a New England environmental group with offices in Hartford. “We’re for the state to ramp up its support of offshore wind.”
Virginia-based Dominion Energy, the owner of Millstone, has sought legislative approval from Connecticut lawmakers to compete in an electricity procurement market the state has that is currently limited to renewable energy projects. Company officials have hinted to lawmakers that they may have to close the power-generating plant if they aren’t allowed to compete in the renewable power market.
John Humphries, an organizer with the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, said officials in California were able to negotiate a 10-year delay in the shutdown of Diablo Canyon nuclear plant after negotiations with the facility’s owner, Pacific Gas & Electric. The Connecticut Roundtable is a coalition of labor, environmental and religious groups.
“Those kinds of discussions are not happening here,” he said.
The forum’s focus on offshore wind projects does not include support of any wind turbines being built in Long Island Sound, Humphries said.
“We’re talking about development rights being auctioned off by the federal government in the ocean off of Rhode Island and Massachusetts,” Humphries said. “Massachusetts has an RFP (request for proposals) that is 10 times the size of the Block Island project and some of that energy is going to Connecticut.”
That translates into more jobs for Connecticut construction workers, he said.
“You know what the fastest growing job category is right now,” Humphries said. “It is wind turbine technicians.”
Block Island Wind Farm is the first offshore commercial windfarm in the nation and went into service at end of last year. Humphries said because Connecticut is joining with Massachusetts in the request for proposals, the developer of any project that comes out of that process is required to hire some Connecticut workers.
Massachusetts officials are set to announce the winning proposals selected from the RFP process on Jan. 25, 2018, according to that state’s Department of Energy Resources.
David Langlais, business manager for Providence, Rhode Island -based Ironworkers Local 37, said unions in that state had to work hard to get some of their members jobs during the construction of the Block Island Wind Farm.
“Everyone in this room is going to have to push,” David Langlais told the crowd of more than 60 people who attended. Get in touch with your local politicians and get involved.”
Schlichting said another way to get Connecticut to become part of more wind projects is to urge lawmakers to weigh in on the state’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy.
“The wind portion of the CES is quite weak,” she said.
The draft plan was released in July and public comment on the 226-page document closes on Monday, with the final version of the plan scheduled to be released by the end of the year, said Dennis Schain, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
“Right now, this is a draft plan,” he said. “We appreciate all of the comments that have been made regarding the plan and will take them into consideration when developing the final version.”
URL to article: https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2017/09/22/connecticut-unions-environmentalists-want-more-wind-power/