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May 31, 2020
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Needleman: Renewable Energy Future is Bright

Published Dec. 19, 2019

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Earlier this month, the culmination of months of hard work came when the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection announced Massachusetts-based Vineyard Wind is entering contract negotiations to provide 804 megawatts of offshore wind. Vineyard Wind wants to use Bridgeport’s harbor as part of the project, and as it advances, it will undoubtedly bring new jobs and investment to the area.

In January, when my colleagues on the Energy & Technology Committee developed legislation that advanced the prospect of renewable energy off the coast, this was exactly the kind of result we hoped for. As our world changes, we need to respond accordingly, finding new and improved ways to move our state forward. By developing legislation bringing up to 2,000 megawatts of 100-percent renewable wind energy to Connecticut’s shores, we met that goal. This project will make 14 percent of our state’s total electricity supply renewable, and there’s still capacity for another 1,200 megawatts to add to it—that’s something to be proud of.

It’s thinking like this that I hope to replicate in the 2020 legislative session. Connecticut leaders have myriad opportunities to explore new forms of energy production to move toward a greener, healthier future. The ripple effects of our legislative process—with a possible $1.6 billion in economic benefits and a possible 12,000 total jobs created just from the Vineyard Wind project—are clear. This isn’t even the first success this year—in the spring, Governor Ned Lamont announced a $93 million New London offshore wind deal to further strengthen the future of energy in our state, bringing along with it many of the same benefits of the Vineyard Wind project.

When we begin discussions and deliberations, I won’t be thinking solely about the impact that healthy sources of energy have on our state. The positive connections that projects like these have on our state can support local and state economies and benefit workers and families, supporting job growth and pushing forward to replenish our coastal cities. We need to focus on bringing new, innovative strategies to our coasts and communities alike, also working to lower our energy costs, highest in the country but for Hawaii and Alaska, and developing ways to meet and match the challenges tomorrow will bring.

Now that we’ve received reports from the Offices of Policy and Management and Fiscal Analysis outlining that recent efforts have put controls into place to keep spending reasonable, we need to focus on the future. Policy and procedural enhancements that lead to significant investments for jobs and economic development needs to be a focal point for legislators. I’ll work to guide my colleagues to recognize our need to do so and am confident our efforts will reflect that success.

The future is bright in Connecticut, as bright as the light bulbs powered by Vineyard Wind’s future turbines, but now’s not the time to stop. In 2020, my foremost goal will be to push our state further in renewable and effective energy development. Our state deserves nothing less.

 


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