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CT Construction Digest Friday December 6, 2019

DEEP selects Vineyard Wind in latest round of offshore wind bids
Julia Bergman
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced Thursday that it has selected Vineyard Wind, which has proposed a major investment in Bridgeport Harbor, to provide 804 megawatts of offshore wind power to Connecticut.
DEEP said the project represents the largest purchase of renewable energy in Connecticut's history and will provide the equivalent of 14 percent of the state's electricity supply. The project, dubbed Park City Wind, is expected to be operational in 2025.
The New Bedford, Mass.-based Vineyard Wind, a pairing of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables, was competing against the joint venture of Ørsted and Eversource known as Constitution Wind, as well as Mayflower Wind, an alliance of Shell New Energies and EDPR Renewables North America.
The state could have awarded as much as 2,000 megawatts, per legislation passed last year. Kristina Rozek, spokeswoman for DEEP, said the department does not plan to award any other bids in the near future.
The selection of Vineyard Wind is a blow to southeastern Connecticut. Ørsted-Eversource had promised $100 million to a variety of local agencies and initiatives if selected by the state. That money included an earlier commitment by the companies of $57.5 million to upgrade State Pier in New London in connection with their Revolution Wind farm project. That project will supply 300 megawatts of offshore wind power to Connecticut, a result of an earlier request for proposals.
Mayor Michael Passero said New London would have received millions of dollars under the commitment from Ørsted-Eversource.
"We're very disappointed. It's a great loss to the economy of southeastern Connecticut," Passero said. "But we understand DEEP was looking out for the larger base of ratepayers with the bids."
Passero said he continues to lobby the state to provide revenue to New London to make up for the lost property taxes from State Pier, a state-owned facility.
Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen, in a statement Thursday, pointed to potential for both New London and Bridgeport's roles in supporting the offshore wind industry, a point he made when meeting with The Day's editorial board last month.
"Today's announcement takes Connecticut one step closer to being the epicenter of the new offshore wind industry, with thriving ports in both Bridgeport and New London," Pedersen said. "We look forward to building on the work already underway with a network of project partners, local officials, the maritime community, other developers, and all stakeholders involved to make Connecticut a hub for the offshore wind industry in the United States for decades to come."
Vineyard Wind wants to transform Barnum Landing, an underused part of Bridgeport Harbor, into a manufacturing and staging facility for the offshore wind industry, and later into a long-term hub for workers servicing the turbines, which have a life cycle of 25 to 30 years.
The project includes an estimated $890 million in economic development in Connecticut, including Bridgeport Harbor and the local supply chain, DEEP said. Vineyard Wind estimates 2,800 jobs will be created in the state throughout the project.
Gov. Ned Lamont in a statement said this "sets up Connecticut as a regional leader in the creation of a thriving industry that will bring tangible benefits for our state and the entire region."
Vineyard Wind now will begin negotiations with the state's two electric utilities, United Illuminating Company and Eversource, for a 20-year contract. The contract is subject to review and approval by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.

Challenge to R.I. truck tolls gets new life from federal appeals court
Patrick Anderson                      
The trucking industry scored a court victory Thursday in its bid to stop Rhode Island’s truck tolls.
A federal appeals court reversed a lower court ruling last March to dismiss the suit on jurisdictional grounds.
The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the tractor-trailer tolls Rhode Island started charging on its highways last year are not state taxes protected under federal law from federal court review.
“When we look at whether the word “tax” was then understood to include tolls, we find something of a mixed bag, albeit one quite heavily loaded in favor of treating tolls as something other than taxes,” Judge William J. Kayatta wrote in the decision for First Circuit Court of Appeals.
The ruling sends the case back to U.S. District Court The suit was brought by the American  Trucking Associations and three companies including Cumberland Farms, claiming that the tolls violate the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Kevin Rennie: Ann Lamont’s emails show an administration in flux

Ann Huntress Lamont did not think you would read this far. The wife of Gov. Ned Lamont and a powerhouse in his administration wrote in a March 12 email to the governor and three staff members, “headlines matter - as you know most people don’t go beyond that.” But you may still want to keep reading.Emails to and from Mrs. Lamont obtained through a request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act reveal life inside the Lamont bunker as it struggled to work the levers of power in its first year.Emails to and from Mrs. Lamont obtained through a request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act reveal life inside the Lamont bunker as it struggled to work the levers of power in its first year.From soda to health care to the land mine of tolls, the messages provide a look at an administration run by people with little experience wrestling with an independent legislature and intricate bureaucracy. Lamont receives advice from a wide range of sources. His accomplished wife appears at times to be his most vocal advisor — though not always aware of the unintended consequences of change. The wealthy governor grew so irked with the legislature’s resistance to his budget that he — apparently joking — proposed to his staff that the state limit legislators’ health insurance coverage in retaliation for opposing his unpopular tax on soda. “Let’s cap legislators health insurance claims, given their showy addiction 16 ounce Sodas, it could be very expensive to the next generation. Show picture :-) let’s go on the offense,” Lamont wrote in an email that included his wife, who responded, “Love it!” The proposal came at the end of a message expressing dismay that his administration was playing too much defense. But another insider got caught up in the sugary drink mess. In January, Ned Lamont announced with fanfare that Indra Nooyi would be helping his administration with economic development. Nooyi was a big get. She retired last year as the head of PepisCo and ascended to a seat on the Amazon board of directors. Last month, her portrait was inducted into the National Portrait Gallery collection. My friends, that is living. Nooyi, the celebrated corporate face of sugary drinks for years, was in a spot in February when her friend Ned Lamont proposed that tax on soda. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, guru of leadership studies at Yale who wrote a fulsome profile of Nooyi in 2018, shared some unsettling news in a Feb. 20 message to both Lamonts. “Psst - if you get a chance -Indra is embarrassed and surprised by the soda tax - avoiding PepsiCo colleagues and media.” Oh dear. Nooyi is a trooper. The legislature killed the tax and Nooyi soldiers on, trying to serve Connecticut. The administration does not cooperate. In a June 13 email to Ann Lamont, Nooyi complains, “My only request Annie and Ned. For me to talk about the budget, I need it laid out in a way that I can speak from it. Been desperately trying to get from governors team. I think root canal is easier. They seem to be swamped.” Indeed, the workload is heavy, and to Mrs. Lamont, “it sometimes feels like 5 people are doing everything.” Ann Lamont, who receives weekly briefings from chief of staff Ryan Drajewicz, is a force in her husband’s administration. She knew that her husband’s decision to abandon his trucks-only campaign pledge would be a costly gamble. In a Feb. 17 message to chief of staff Ryan Drajewicz, she tags the toll proposal as “breaking a promise out of the box.” She doesn’t “want to lose good will with voters so quickly you can’t get things done.” Too late. Damaging as Lamont’s toll odyssey has been, it would have been worse if he’d followed the advice of deputy chief of staff Jonathan Dach. He suggested in a Feb. 23 message that the “Boss” propose imposing a vehicle miles traveled tax — allowing the state to track our miles with GPS technology and impose a fee — when Lamont met with other New England governors. Ann Lamont, who has made a fortune in health care investments, was a key advisor in choosing the new social services commissioner. Mrs. Lamont thinks fewer people should be in nursing homes. In a March 6 message, she writes, “I know nursing home [aides] are afraid to lose jobs but they can be repurposed to good jobs in home care.” Someone might want to run that by the powerful healthcare workers’ union.
In a July 29 email, the Lamonts’ daughter Emily provides polling information from the campaign and bemoans that “they left TOLLS and failure to pass TOLLS dominate.” Her father is still the “Rich guy from Greenwich.” She adds, “Guarantee you legalize weed and you’ll see a quick sustained bump.”
Maybe next year.

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