After months of negotiation, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said a deal to revitalize State Pier in New London is finalized.
Lamont initially announced plans to redevelop the New London harbor more than nine months ago, saying an investment of $93 million would transform the port into a hub for the growing offshore wind industry.
But that plan has grown. The deal approved by the Connecticut Port Authority on Tuesday calls for a public-private investment of $157 million, with investments in rail links and upgraded freight capabilities for lifting wind turbine components.
Partners Eversource and Ørsted committed to investing $77.5 million in the port. The state and the Connecticut Port Authority will fund the remaining $79.5 million with additional bond money and $25.5 million previously allocated for the project.
“I wanted to make sure we didn’t just build it so it would be great for wind power for the next 10 years, but that New London was going to be a world-class port for the next 100 years,” said Lamont.
“This took a while,” he said. “I’m finding in this state it’s not easy getting people around rebuilding 100-year-old infrastructure.”
Another reason the deal took a while was because of concerns about spending and mismanagement at the Port Authority. A recent state audit highlighted problems with ethics and spending at the agency and raised questions about hotel stays and expenses filed by former CPA leaders.
Lamont brought in new leadership, but he said he still supports the quasi-public model, despite concerns raised Tuesday by some Republican legislators over a lack of transparency.
“I like the quasi model as long as we make it right,” Lamont said. “The quasis give us room to put together partnerships like this.”
Earlier in the day, Republican leaders announced several legislative proposals to revamp quasi publics at a news conference.
“Our proposals will overhaul the oversight of state quasi-publics and turn over a new leaf when it comes to transparency and accountability,” Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano said in a statement. “For years Republicans have proposed policies to stop quasi-publics from engaging in questionable behavior and mismanagement of taxpayers’ dollars.”
As part of the State Pier deal, Eversource and Ørsted will sign a 10-year lease, paying $2 million annually to the Port Authority.
Construction is expected to begin next year and wrap in the summer of 2022.