Federal offshore wind agency tells Maine: prepare to turn federal & EEZ waters off state into offshore wind farms. (tv news coverage)
State officials must come up with maps of wind-suitable areas off Maine by next Task Force meeting.
Links below to audio recordings of this meeting, and key govt contacts.
On Tuesday September 14th, the Federal offshore wind officials of BOEMRE, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, met with Maine and federal agencies (including PUC) in the first meeting of the new Maine/Federal Offshore Wind Task Force. The meeting was convened to bring Maine state officials, legislators and tribal representatives, along with local federal officials, together with the Bureau's Maine Project Coordinator and staff. More than 40 attendees filled the room at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center.
Before any further action, Governor Baldacci has until September 24th to decide whether to sign onto a new federal charter which establishes the Federal/Maine Task Force. This commits the state to following the federal lead when it comes to picking locations off Maine for ocean wind turbine projects.
The first goal of the new Maine Task Force is to delineate locations off Maine's coast in federal waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone offshore. State and Tribal officials were briefed on the purpose of the Task Force and the new federal regulations that apply, then told to meet with their constituencies in the commercial and recreational fishing industries and other interested persons and hash out possible locations. The state and tribal agencies would then bring this draft maps to the next meeting of this Federal/State Task Force. The state and tribal officials were also asked to approve a Maine Renewable Energy task Force Charter
Earlier this year, Maine's legislature passed and governor Baldacci signed LD 1810 n Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Governor's Oc... This sets up state offshore windfarm laws and regulations. Key among the provisions of the new law is directing offshore wind power efforts at least ten miles offshore and limiting it to floating technology in deepwater locations.
But the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy would like to change that. It is interested in considering ocean windpower in all federal waters from three miles offshore and out. Their plans also include promoting shallow water "monopole" type windmills, driven right into the seafloor, instead of floating. While state officials and legislators questions the federal representatives, the resolution of these two positions is not clear.
While the federal plan would not affect most Maine lobstermen, the announcement confirms concerns raised after passage of the bill by groundfishermen that they, along with scallopers, shrimpers and other offshore fishermen, could find access to their fishing grounds at possible jeopardy. According to Aditi Mirani, Federal Project Coordinator for Maine, concerned citizens and state agencies have ten days to send their comments and decisionas about the new "Charter".
Initially, the Task Force organizers had planned to limit public question and answer session to the close of the meeting,. However, after a request by a citizen, the governor's office had the agenda modified to allow for him to ask a question earlier in the meeting. The questioner noted that the agency is organizing ocean windfarming along the entire Atlantic coast, and that impacts to migratory species like tuna, whales and seabirds from windfarming off North Carolina or New Jersey could require that Maine reduce its offshore wind impacts to those migratory species. Would the Federal task convene a coastwise review of this issue? The officials said they would look into it.
, Hutchinson Center, Belfast Maine
FEDERAL BUREAU OF OCEAN ENERGY MANAGEMENT, REGULATION AND ENFORCEMENT