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Connecticut regulators: Offshore wind developers should fund mitigation efforts

Connecticut regulators want developers to provide details on how offshore wind farms will affect ocean habitats, industries and safety at sea, and recommended that developers make ongoing payments into a mitigation fund to offset any negative impacts from their projects.

The recommendations come as commercial fishing industries and environmental groups sound alarms about the impending offshore wind boom along the East Coast. Those concerns helped lead the Trump administration to delay the environmental review of Vineyard Wind LLC's Vineyard Offshore Wind Project. Connecticut is among several East Coast states that have passed laws promoting offshore wind, after Gov. Ned Lamont on June 10 signed a bill mandating the procurement of 2 GW of offshore generation by 2030.

Included in the legislation was a mandate to study the ramifications of such development. The regulators' recommendations are included in a report produced by the state's the Commission on Environmental Standards, which held public meetings throughout the summer before releasing the final report Aug. 7. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will consider the recommendations in finalizing its first requests for proposals for offshore wind.

The commission recommended that developers commit upfront money to a mitigation fund that will "offset economic losses or burdens to the commercial fishing industry, elements of the environment, and other stakeholders that arise from unavoidable impacts of offshore development."

Those impacts could include not only the direct economic losses resulting from loss of access to fishing grounds, but also socio-economic considerations such as the impacts to related businesses within coastal communities, and any loss of qualified workforce hired away to jobs in the offshore development industry," the report said.

The report did not recommend how much offshore developers should pay into the fund, but said payments should be ongoing. It also said developers should be required to develop decommissioning plans.

Connecticut has already procured 300 MW of offshore wind capacity from the 704-MW Revolution Wind Offshore, owned by Eversource Energy and Ørsted A/S.