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Connecticut groups concerned wind farm project won’t maximize economic potential for state

Officials with a coalition of Connecticut labor and environmental groups say they are concerned a company scheduled to begin providing the state with wind power in 2023 is not trying maximize the economic impact that the project will have.

Representatives of the coalition, made up of more than two-dozen groups, sent a letter Wednesday to the two top executives of Orsted US Offshore Wind. In the letter, they expressed concern the company might not use a type of base that anchors the wind turbines to the ocean floor that can be mass produced in southern New England.

John Humphries, lead organizer for the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, said comments made by an Orsted executive Dec. 12 led him to believe the company will use two types of bases that will be mass produced in Europe.

“We were both surprised and deeply disappointed when Orsted’s Ryan Chaytors told a public gathering in New London last week that gravity bases are no longer being considered for these projects,” Humphries said in a three-page letter to Jeff Grybowski and Thomas Brostrom, the co-chief executive officers of Orsted US Offshore Wind. “Since the geotechnical surveys are still ongoing, it seems like a betrayal of trust and commitment, and it presents the appearance that after the merger, Orsted is now more interested in protecting its European manufacturing and supply chain operations than it is in building a substantial presence here in New England that will maximize the benefits to local communities.”

Humphries Wednesday said the gravity bases are completely made of concrete and “are the size of a tall apartment building.” One they are constructed, they are floated out to the site of the wind farm using tugboats.

Orsted’s Revolution Wind project will produce 200 megawatts of electricity from a wind farm that will be built in federal waters about halfway between Montauk, N.Y., and Martha’s Vineyard

“Because of their size, they would have to be constructed near where they are to be used,” Humphries said.

Orsted has committed to investing at least $15 million in the Port of New London so that substantial aspects of the Revolution Wind project can be constructed in that city.

But Chaytors, who is a project development manager with Orsted, told an audience with the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut on Dec. 12 that two other types of turbine bases – monopiles and jackets – were the only foundations under consideration by the company.

Orsted officials were not immediately available Friday to comment on the letter.

The letter to the Orsted executives urged them to “maintain a commitment to work with local communities and stakeholders in making production decisions that put the interests of Connecticut’s workers and their communities first, rather than prioritizing the company’s existing manufacturing and supply chain operations in Europe.”

“The premature rejection of the gravity-based system prior to completion of geotechnical surveys and a thorough exploration of local partnerships that could meet the production demands would be very unfortunate and could make it more challenging for us to build the broad public support we want for expanding offshore wind in Connecticut,” the letter concludes.