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07/22/2021

Regional Wildlife Science Entity Launched to Research and Monitor Effects of Offshore Wind Development on Wildlife, Ecosystems

DEEP Joins Regional Atlantic Coastal Partners, State and Federal Agencies, Environmental Groups, Energy Industry, and Others to Lead New Entity

 

(HARTFORD)—The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is thrilled to announce the launch of the Regional Wildlife Science Entity (RWSE), a collaborative partnership that will research and monitor effects of offshore wind (OSW) energy development on wildlife and ecosystems and inform OSW deployment practices.

The purpose of the RWSE is to support regional planning, coordination, and collaboration on research and monitoring for wildlife and OSW, as the OSW industry grows. It will be administered and directed by the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC), Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO), and the Coastal States Stewardship Foundation (CSSF), the Regional Ocean Partnerships on the U.S. Atlantic Coast. The RWSE aims to create an essential forum for sharing information, standardizing data collection and monitoring protocols, defining key scientific research needs at project and regional scales, and amplifying the results of existing and ongoing research.

DEEP is one of several agencies/organizations helping to lead the RWSE on its Interim Steering Committee. DEEP is joined on the Steering Committee by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Equinor, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Maryland Energy Administration, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the National Audubon Society, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the New York State Energy Research Development Authority, and Shell.

Connecticut has been a leader in helping to move the OSW industry forward. Since 2018, the state has procured roughly 1,000 MW (1 GW) via three procurements across two separate projects: 300 MW in two separate procurements from the Revolution Wind project (joint project of Orsted and Eversource) in 2018; and 804 MW from the Park City Wind project (joint project of Avangrid and Vineyard Wind). These procurements represent nearly 20% of CT’s energy supply when those projects come online.

“DEEP is thrilled to be a part of the RWSE, an exciting step forward in integrating energy and environmental policy at the regional level,” DEEP Deputy Commissioner Vicki Hackett said. “Offshore wind is a key aspect of our strategy to reduce carbon emissions from our electric grid in Connecticut, and we need to make sure it is installed and managed in a manner consistent with our mission of environmental conservation. Working within the RWSE will allow us to leverage the expertise of all of the participants to develop consistent approaches based on the best available science.”

“Working together to build shared priorities will be critical to focusing on the most important tasks for the conservation of wildlife resources while achieving our renewable energy goals,” Rick Jacobson, Chief of DEEP’s Bureau of Natural Resources, said. “DEEP looks forward to the continuing collaboration with its fellow RWSE members.”

During the RFP process that led to the selection of the 804 MW Park City Wind Project, which will be situated in Bridgeport Harbor, DEEP convened the Commission on Environmental Standards to provide input on best practices for avoiding, minimizing and mitigating any impacts to wildlife, natural resources, ecosystems and water-dependent uses like commercial fishing. Park City Wind’s successful bid incorporated many of the recommendations of the Commission. Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued a Notice of Intent to proceed with an Environmental Impact Study for the Park City Wind project.

The RWSE is funded by annual contributions and support from members in each of the four sectors–federal, state, industry, and nongovernmental organization–as well as significant in-kind support from NROC, MARCO, CSSF, and their partners and stakeholders.

For more information on the RWSE, go here.

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