March 2, 2023
by Dana Connors
For nearly 30 years, I have had the privilege of serving as president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. I've worked with thousands of Maine businesses and thousands of local industry leaders to improve prosperity for all Maine people. Our common goals have been to strengthen and grow our economy, to build enthusiasm for Maine entrepreneurship and ingenuity, to collaborate and problem-solve in overcoming challenges and to create opportunities for our young people, veterans and all Mainers to have good-paying jobs right here in the state they call home.
As I prepare to pass the torch, I want to highlight an incredible economic opportunity that uniquely combines all the goals we've advanced as business advocates: Maine-made offshore wind.
Offshore wind research and development in Maine started more than 15 years ago as a response to the critical challenges of climate change and overreliance on fossil fuels burdening Maine businesses and communities. Researchers at the University of Maine wanted to find a way to locally produce renewable energy that would preserve Maine's environment and protect Mainers from the volatile price spikes caused by dependence on heating oil and natural gas.
The result of UMaine's foresight and innovation is VolturnUS, patented floating offshore wind technology designed to be built in Maine by Maine workers. This Maine-made technology presents the opportunity of a century for Maine, and it's been guided by more than a decade of collaboration among a diverse group of stakeholders including environmental, labor and business groups; scientists, energy and marine experts, and local and state government officials. In my 30 years at the Maine Chamber, I've rarely seen as many different groups and interests come together in agreement on a policy or issue as much as they have united on Maine-made offshore wind.
The common thread in this broad, enthusiastic support for Maine-made offshore wind is a commitment to the state of Maine's responsible, science-based approach. Maine believes that offshore wind must coexist with all traditional ocean users, especially our iconic lobster and fishing communities. The Maine Research Array advances this purpose and vision. It's a small-scale, research-focused offshore wind initiative that optimizes economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind while protecting the ecosystem and heritage industries of the Gulf of Maine.
Using UMaine's patented VolturnUS floating offshore wind technology, the Maine Research Array will commercialize local innovation and put Maine at the forefront of a $1 trillion global industry. It will also cultivate a thriving new Maine manufacturing industry comparable to the shipbuilding and paper industries that put Maine in a position of prominence in the 19th and 20th centuries. Maine-made offshore wind is our answer for the 21st century.
The Maine Research Array is expected to bring more than $375 million in direct construction spending to Maine and generate more than $1 billion in economic activity for the state. It will create an estimated 3,250 direct, good-paying jobs for Maine people, as well as workforce training and apprenticeship programs to build our future workforce. The project will produce clean, renewable energy for nearly 100,000 Maine homes and businesses, and will remove more than 985 million pounds of harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The large amounts of renewable power generated by the Maine Research Array will allow Maine to achieve its climate goals at the lowest cost - working with solar and onshore wind - and protect Maine people and businesses from the volatile price spikes of fossil fuels. These economic, energy and environmental benefits are monumental, and because of the state of Maine's prudent, science-based approach to offshore wind development, we can achieve all these benefits while minimizing potential impacts to the ecosystem and wildlife and maximizing coexistence with our vital fishing industry......................
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