Pro Offshore Wind groups says Maine is lagging

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Supporters of Offshore Wind in Maine said a new report out today should serve as a wake up call to the LePage Administration and the rest of state government.

The Natural Resources Council of Maine said the report issued by the National Wildlife Federation shows there's an enormous potential off the coast of Maine and that we should be doing more to be at the forefront of this untapped resource, but the Governor's Energy Office says Maine is making progress with the resources it has.

With the launching of Volturnus last summer Maine led the way with the first grid connected offshore wind turbine in America.
But since then there have been some setbacks. Stat Oil, a global player in the energy sector backed out of a plan to build floating turbines in Maine citing regulatory uncertainty. Then in May, the UMaine led Offshore Wind Project failed to attract a $47 million dollar federal grant for construction of 2 turbines off Monhegan Island.

"The top line is that the potential is really large and so we need to keep acting in order to seize that potential," said Dylan Voorhees of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Voorhees said the report reinforces the enormous potential of offshore wind, which other states may tap into first. States leading the way are Massachusetts and Rhode Island where projects have secured contracts and leases.

Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware are working towards leasing sites. And then there's Maine, along with the Carolinas and Georgia where research and planning are underway.

"Although Maine has taken a lot of steps and really started to build up some momentum in research and development we're really not where we need to be in terms of investment and making the state an inviting place for development," said Voorhees.

But the Director of the Governor's Energy Office Patrick Woodcock told us that Maine is making progress, despite having greater challenges than those other states.

"I think it's a simplistic response to say maine isn't further along because you're really comparing two very different technologies," said Woodcock.

Woodcock said the state's that are ahead of Maine are using a known technology, driving turbines into the sea floor because the water's much shallower off the coast of those states.

Maine has deeper water and is testing new floating turbine technology And he points out that Maine did receive a $3 million dollar federal grant for Research and Development, and the Maine PUC did approve a long term power contract for the project.

Both sides do agree upon one thing---that the next step is to attract investment to build the turbines.


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