Final State Pier cost unknown, according to Port Authority’s response to senator

May 1, 2023

Final State Pier cost unknown, according to Port Authority’s response to senator

CT Inside Investigator

The cost of Connecticut’s State Pier project to turn the State Pier into a hub for an offshore wind farm to be built by Eversource and Orsted has ballooned from $93 million to $255 million and the final cost remains unknown, according to Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) Executive Director Ulysses Hammond’s response to questions submitted by Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton.

Somers sent a letter with a series of questions to Hammond, several of which inquired about the overall cost of the project. When asked “how many more state taxpayers’ dollars will you have to ask for to complete the project” Hammond’s answer was that he didn’t know yet.

“We do not know that number today because a series of ongoing negotiations with our contractor, Kiewit, and our partners,” Hammond wrote. “However, as stated above, our plan is to advise you and your colleagues before anything is shared publicly and before action is taken by our Board once an agreement is reached.”

Hammond also indicated the CPA is negotiating with Eversource and Orsted, “to contribute towards any additional cost to complete the Project.”

Those negotiations may be vital to the Port Authority, which has essentially run out of money to throw at the project after the cost rose another $7.4 million due to obstructions beneath the water, forcing the CPA to draw $2.5 million in contingency funds and move future revenues onto their current budget.

The last time the Port Authority came to Connecticut’s State Bond Commission seeking more money for the project, CPA Board Chairman David Kooris assured lawmakers and the governor that it would be the last time they sought additional taxpayer support.

Although the project, meant to wind power to Connecticut’s power grid, has been praised by federal officials, the project and the CPA itself, have been beset with issues since the beginning, including rising costs, ethics violations, statutory contracting issues, a pending federal investigation tied to Kosta Diamantis, former deputy secretary for the Office of Policy and Management, and a pending lawsuit by a contractor for unpaid invoices.

The Port Authority is also operating with a reduced staff following the departure of Andrew Lavigne, former manager of business development and special projects, who was hired by the Department Economic and Community Development to oversee clean energy development.

Lavigne had been fined $750 by the Office of State Ethics and received a two-day suspension for  receiving gifts from Seabury Capital, a contractor on the State Pier project.

Hammond said the CPA currently has two full time employees and one part-time employee and one employee on loan from the Department of Transportation, but they are still two employees short of the 4.5 authorized employees.

Despite the setbacks, operations on the State Pier are set to begin for South Fork Wind, Revolution Wind and Sunrise Wind developments that will provide power to Connecticut and New York.

The project and agreements will reportedly provide jobs in the area as well as revenue to both the Port Authority and the City of New London through leasing agreements and revenue sharing.

However, recent job projections are much lower that what was initially sold to the public and lawmakers, according to CT Examiner, because regulatory filings listed “job years,” which are the number of jobs multiplied by the number of years working that job.

Hammond said that the final gross maximum price for the State Pier may come in May: “We aim to be in a position to share with you and your colleagues a final GMP next month.” He also anticipates presenting a fourth amendment to the Harbor Development Agreement to the CPA board for approval in May.