Maine regulators are putting a hold on an innovative offshore wind project’s proposed contract to sell electricity to Central Maine Power, the latest twist in Aqua Ventus’ attempt to test a floating turbine platform near Monhegan Island.
In 2014, the Maine Public Utilities Commission gave the green light for the University of Maine’s Aqua Ventus project to negotiate a long-term contract with Central Maine Power for electricity from two experimental floating turbines. Prices would rise to 35 cents a kilowatt hour by the year 2040. But as commissioners note now, electricity prices have recently come under significant downward pressure, and the contract could be worth as much as five times the market price.
Regulators said that would amount to an unwarranted subsidy.
“The intent of the statute is to develop a technology that is going to be commercially viable without subsidy,” Public Utilities Commission Chairman Mark Vannoy said.
Vannoy also said that many of the goals of the state’s Ocean Wind Energy Act, including reduced dependence on fossil fuel energy, are being met.