Eversource CEO: Connecticut Can Lead Clean Energy Future
Less than a year into his role as the leader of New England’s largest utility, Eversource Energy CEO Joe Nolan brings optimism about Connecticut’s role in the clean energy revolution.
“Connecticut has a great opportunity,” Nolan told 300 business leaders at CBIA’s Sept. 30 The Connecticut Economy conference.
Nolan believes if the state encourages energy opportunities, it will not be long before other large companies want to call Connecticut home.
“The good thing is that offshore wind is gaining momentum and coming into its own as a major partner in the clean energy future and Connecticut is well positioned to take advantage of both renewable energy and job creation,” said Nolan.
With the state’s carbon-free goals and federal government support to streamline the process for offshore wind development, Nolan said the future is bright.
Eversource and Danish Company Ørsted are taking the first step in what they expect to be a key component in driving the region’s energy future and economic boom.
The two companies are in the midst of developing offshore wind assets to provide the region with zero-carbon energy in a 50-50 partnership.
Offshore Wind Development
Revolution Wind, which will deliver 300 megawatts of power to Connecticut, is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than six million tons a year.
Nolan said that is “the equivalent of taking about one million cars off the road.”
The massive venture will create at least 400 construction jobs and an additional 100-plus support positions.
But that could be only the beginning, Nolan said.
“The development of offshore wind requires onshore support facilities and we are working to build a facility here in Connecticut that will rival any other on the East Coast,” he explained.
“Think about the jobs this will create. Connecticut and the Northeast states are leading the way in sustainable wind energy development.”
He said the public and private partnership to redevelop the New London state pier will make the eastern Connecticut city a vibrant hub.
The port’s unique deep water heavy lift gives Connecticut a competitive advantage over other offshore wind developers.
“The state pier will serve as an epicenter for additional wind development if the state supports investment,” added Nolan.
“The pier will also be able to attract a new range of industries and new classes of cargo.”
Nolan said the positive outlook on offshore wind development exemplifies the state’s need to keep a forward-looking momentum to drive economic growth.
“It’s not enough to have companies in any industry that have great innovative products,” he said. “State policy needs to support growth as well.”
On a larger scale, Nolan said tax incentives will help make renewable energy sources more affordable for customers.
The offshore wind project may be the largest, but it is not Eversource’s only sustainable energy project.
The company plans to invest $250 million in electric vehicle charging stations in Connecticut and Massachusetts over the next several years.
It’s part of an initiative to create a charging network across New England.
“Legislation in Connecticut also encourages the development of energy storage systems,” explained Nolan.
Eversource has begun conversations with businesses in the state. Nolan said companies like Cadenza Innovation in Danbury “are breaking new ground,” in terms of battery storage.
Nolan said policymakers, regulators, and utilities must collaborate to manage the transition from natural gas to renewable energy sources.
“We support emissions reductions to protect the future of our planet,” he said. “A shift from coal to natural gas as a primary source of energy has already helped reduce emissions from generation by 40% since 1990.”
Economic, Community Impact
Don’t let Nolan’s Boston accent overshadow his focus on Connecticut, one of three states Eversource services.
The company employs more than 4,500 people in Connecticut, with another 1,700 contractors, and pays more than $430 million in state and local taxes.
Beyond that, it makes more than $2 million in charitable contributions annually to Connecticut community organizations.
“One of the goals I’ve always had, that is really always a business I grew up in, is to be really a part of the fabric of our community,” explained Nolan.
The offshore wind project has opened the door for partnerships with Mystic Aquarium, Project Oceanography, and Niantic Children’s Museum to support research, stem programing and career resources.
Workforce development efforts are underway too. A program with local unions and Capital Community College is in its infancy, with a course to develop the next generation of line workers.
Investments in communities and partnerships with municipalities are far and wide and growing.
“There is a saying in my business that the cleanest energy is the energy you don’t use,” said Nolan.
“As we work to make our energy cleaner and more renewable, we’re also focused on helping our customers use less of it.”
Nationally recognized energy efficiency programs represent an annual investment of more than $600 million across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
This year alone, Eversource will invest $300 billion in infrastructure across the three states.
Nolan said it is time for lawmakers to extend a hand to those looking to invest in clean energy to better position the state for all-around success.
The Connecticut Economy was made possible through the generous support of Marcum LLP with additional support from Eversource Energy, Liberty Bank, People’s United Bank, Wells Fargo, and Windsor Federal Savings.
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