Gov. Janet Mills gives lift to Maine’s offshore wind initiatives

A TRILLION dollar industry? That's 1,000 Billion or one Million Million. Guess who's pockets benefit. Guess who's pockets get picked.

Gov. Janet Mills gives lift to Maine’s offshore wind initiatives

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff • March 11, 2020 3:15 pm
Updated: March 11, 2020 4:14 pm

SEARSPORT, Maine — With the cold breeze off Penobscot Bay whipping around her, Gov. Janet Mills said here on Wednesday that her administration is pushing forward with offshore wind initiatives aimed at generating more sustainable energy for Mainers.

The state will commit to a study of the Sprague Energy Terminal at Mack Point port facility to identify and assess short- and long-term port opportunities related to the offshore wind industry, which is poised to become a $1-trillion industry by 2040. Mills, who visited Scotland last week as a member of a U.S. delegation to learn more about offshore wind operations there, said that the results of the study should be on her desk this year.

“With our existing port infrastructure and proximity to both European and East Coast markets, Maine is well-positioned to become a leader in the offshore wind industry just as Scotland has,” the governor said. “I look forward to the results of this assessment and charting a path forward for this industry in Maine.”

Maine Aqua Ventus, which is likely to be the first floating offshore wind project in the country, is seeking to use the Port of Searsport to assemble the hull that will be towed to the demonstration test site off Monhegan Island. Mills last year signed a law that directed the Maine Public Utilities Commission to approve the contract for the project, which is a collaboration between Cianbro Corp., the University of Maine and the Advanced Structures and Composites Center. The university has estimated that the project will produce more than $150 million in total economic output, and create more than 550 jobs in the state while it is being constructed.

Offshore wind power projects in Maine stalled under former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, but Mills has made renewable energy projects a priority. The emphasis on Mack Point could be good news for Searsport, said Doug Norman, the chairman of the town’s selectboard.

“This is very exciting,” he said, after the governor made her announcement. “It should bring a lot of jobs and be a shot in the arm for Sprague and Searsport and the state of Maine. The potential is incredible. It’s windy almost every day. It’s a perfect place.”

The deepwater port, which has been active since the 1700s, is the state’s second largest seaport. It’s the entry point for much of the gasoline, heating fuel, and bulk commodities that are used in Maine from Augusta north, and there is room for expansion, port officials said on Wednesday.

“We have more land that has not been developed,” Bill Littlefield, the terminal manager at Sprague Energy, said. “It would mean more jobs for terminal workers, as well as other industries that may locate here to support the project.”

James Gillway, Searsport town manager and a former state representative, said that he has advocated for offshore wind opportunities for about a decade. After DCP Midstream withdrew its controversial proposal to construct a large propane tank at the port in 2013, the community hosted some public hearings to move its economic development forward.

“People said, ‘We want you to find the next good, cutting-edge thing that will be good for Searsport,’” Gillway said.

Offshore wind, which University of Maine scientists and engineers have been pursuing for years, seemed like a good answer. In some countries, including Scotland and Germany, offshore wind is a major source of electricity. It could be in Maine too, he said.

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Comment by Penny Gray on March 12, 2020 at 6:18pm

Have the environmental impact statements been filed and the effects of infrasound on marine life and the turbines on migratory birds crossing the Gulf of Maine taken into account?  How much of this trillioin dollar industry is being funded by our tax dollars?  How effective are the off shore wind turbines in Europe?  Have they weaned those countries off fossil fuels and lowered energy costs?  Or is this all about creating jobs? Cost benefit analysis?  

Comment by Art Brigades on March 12, 2020 at 1:47pm

Before Legislator Cuddy got elected he was a regular schiller at hearings and other public gatherings where the Industry needed bodies. He was a spokesman for some union...pipefitters or electricians or something, but he was basically on Jerry Payne's payroll. If they want to knock themselves out trying to harvest wind energy from the gulf of Maine, they will have challenges (ever wonder how we will defend offshore turbines against terror attacks?). PUCs all over New England will impose above-market power contracts on utilities because, well, how cool is that!  But the silver lining in the cloud is at least they appear to have focused their efforts at offshore wind instead of the mountains. 

Comment by Willem Post on March 12, 2020 at 1:11pm

First Experimental Floating Wind Turbine in Norway


Equinor (formerly Statoil, a Norwegian government controlled company) launched the world's first operational deep-water, floating large-capacity wind turbine in 2009. The turbine trade name is “Hywind”.


The wind turbine consists of a 120 m (390 ft) tall tower, above the sea water level, and a 60 m (195 ft) submerged extension below the sea water level, with a heavy weight at the bottom to keep the wind turbine steady and upright, even with very high waves and strong wind conditions. The design was tested and perfected under storm and wind conditions simulated in a laboratory.


The 2.3 MW wind turbine is mounted on top of the tower. It was fully assembled in a deep-water harbor near Stavanger, Norway.


It was towed to a site 10 km (6.2 mi) offshore into the Amoy Fjord in 220 m (720 ft) deep water, near Stavanger, Norway, on 9 June 2009, for a two-year test run, which turned out to be successful.


First Commercial Floating Wind Turbine Plant in Scotland


Hywind Scotland project is the world's first commercial wind turbine plant using floating wind turbines.


It is located 29 km (EIGHTEEN MILES) off PeterheadScotland to minimize visual impacts from shore.

It has five Hywind floating turbines with a total capacity of 30 MW.

It is operated by Hywind (Scotland) Limited, a joint venture of Equinor, Norway (75%) and Masdar, Kuwait (25%).


In 2015, Equinor received permission to install 5 Hywind turbines in Scotland.  


Manufacturing started in 2016 in Spain (wind turbine, rotor), Norway (tower, underwater base, assembly), and Scotland (various parts)

The turnkey capital cost was $263 million for five 6 MW turbines, or $8,767/kW.

They were designed to float on the surface, with about 180 m (600 ft) above the sea water level and 80 m (265 ft) submerged below the seawater level.

Total steel weight is about 2300 metric ton, total ballasted weight is about 20,000 metric ton.

Heavy weights in the bottom of the submerged parts serve to keep them steady and upright.


The turbines were assembled at Stord in Norway in the summer of 2017, using the specialized Saipem 7000 floating crane, and then towed to the north of Scotland by sea-going tugboats.

Make sure to see the videos showing the crane assembling the entire wind turbine.

Nothing like that exists in Maine, or in the rest of New England.

That means offshore wind turbine assembly and servicing would largely be performed by foreign companies, which already have built the infrastructures and other facilities during the past 25 years.


The huge, sea-going, specialized, crane (14,000-metric ton lifting capacity) is required for partial assembly on land and final assembly in an area close to shore with a very deep harbor, before towing, fully assembled, to the site.


The finished turbines were towed to Peterhead, Scotland.  

Three  cup anchors hold each turbine in place.

About 2400 meter of chain is required, weighing 400 metric ton, for each turbine.

The Hywind Scotland project was commissioned in October 2017.


Hywind Wind Turbines for Demonstration Purposes in Maine


Hannah Pingree and other Maine's wind bureaucrats in state government are engaging in mindless prattle, eager to do the bidding of various multi-millionaires and foreign companies that may be providing some wining/dining boondoggle trips to “view the Hywind turbines” in Norway and Scotland.


The turnkey cost of those two Hywind turbines would be about $10,000 per kW, versus NE ridgeline wind at $2,000/kW, and regular offshore, south of Martha’s Vineyard, at $4,000/kW.


That would be at about $120 million for a two 6 MW Hywind wind turbines, plus whatever facilities would need to be built in Maine to support the project.


The turnkey capital cost of the wind turbine plant in Maine would be much higher, because Maine does not have the experience of the Norwegians and the specialized equipment and specialized ships, and other facilities. It would be very costly to build those facilities and ships in Maine, or elsewhere.


600-ft Tall Hywind Turbines Highly Visible From Mohegan Island, Plus Infrasound


The 600-ft tall Hywind wind turbines would be highly visible from Mohegan Island, if they were located TWO MILES east of the island.


At that distance, the problem would not be just cyclical, audible noises keeping people awake, but also low frequency infrasound, which can travel many miles, and passes through walls of houses, and can be felt but not heard, and has been shown to have adverse health impacts on people and animals.


The FAA-required aviation beacons would be clearly visible during nighttime. BTW, they would need to be located about 15 - 20 miles away from Mohegan Island to be unobtrusive to the Islanders.


Here is a research report of daytime and nighttime visibility of wind turbines that are about 3 to 4 MW and about 500 ft tall. See URL with photos.


“Study objectives included identifying the maximum distances the facilities could be seen in both daytime and nighttime views and assessing the effect of distance on visual contrasts associated with the facilities. Results showed that small to moderately sized facilities were visible to the unaided eye at distances greater than 42 km [26 miles (mi)], with turbine blade movement visible up to 39 km (24 mi). At night, aerial hazard navigation lighting was visible at distances greater than 39 km (24 mi). The observed wind facilities were judged to be a major focus of visual attention at distances up to 16 km (10 mi), were noticeable to casual observers at distances of almost 29 km (18 mi), and were visible with extended or concentrated viewing at distances beyond 40 km (25 mi).”


One has to feel sorry for all the residents of Mohegan Island, but the bureaucrats in Augusta, Maine, do not care about that, because there are not enough votes to stop them. Those bureaucrats are hell-bent to use federal and state grants, subsidies, taxpayer and ratepayer money of already-struggling Joe and Jane Worker to save the world, and to enrich a host of multi-millionaires seeking tax shelters. See Appendix.


Some Questions


Who are these Aqua Ventus multi-millionaire owners pushing for this expensive project?

How much would be the subsidies?

What would be the energy cost/kWh?

How long would the project last before it would have to be repaired?

How would it be repaired?

Would any special ships, facilities be required?

Does Maine have the required, at least 100-meter, deep-water port?

Is anyone looking at the entire picture on an A to Z basis, or are Maine bureaucrats just dreaming/prattling about castles in Spain?

Does anyone think the Norwegians would not want to make money to maintain/service and provide spare parts for their Hywind wind turbines?


Extremely Adverse Impact on CMP Electric Rates


LePage’s energy director, Steven McGrath, has focused exclusively on the cost of electricity from the demonstration project.


The rate is at least FOUR TIMES above wholesale market value, reflecting the custom design and experimental nature of the platforms.


It would start at 23 cents per kilowatt-hour in the first year, escalating at 2.5% per year to 35 cents after 20 years.


The PUC estimates it would add up to $208 million over the term, or about $10.5 million a year from Central Maine Power ratepayers. Maine Aqua Ventus had calculated the extra cost would add 73 cents a month to the average household electric bill, in the first year of operation, more thereafter..


That is a total rip-off, because Massachusetts pays only an average of 8 - 9 c/kWh over the life of the project.

Main bureaucrats need to learn from Governor Baker.


NOTE: The above prices should be compared with NE wholesale prices, which have been about 5 c/kWh since 2008, courtesy of abundant, domestic, low-cost, low-CO2 electricity from gas at about 5 c/kWh, and low-cost, near CO2-free electricity from nuclear at about 4.5 - 5.0 c/kWh.


This project is insanity on STEROIDS.


One has to feel sorry for the already-struggling Joe and Jane Workers in Maine who will ultimately pay for all this.


Comment by Paul Ackerman on March 12, 2020 at 10:41am

Just FYI for those who don't follow it -- here is this morning's RTO newsletter online


Now, don’t try and read that poker face; read this news from RTO Insider instead:

  • MISO and SPP staff are both recommending that the RTOs take another stab this year at a coordinated system plan in their elusive pursuit of an interregional project. Amanda Durish Cook and Tom Kleckner report.
  • LS Power is challenging PJM over a new regional targeted market efficiency project process and AEP’s proposed storage-as-transmission asset project. Rich Heidorn Jr. has that story, along with …
  • … FERC Chair Neil Chatterjee and Commissioner Bernard McNamee reversing the commission’s November 2018 order correcting a key calculation in evaluating ISO-NE’s capacity delist bids.
  • Some utilities are taking a hard look at non-wires alternatives given the difficulty and expense of getting transmission projects approved. Tom Kleckner has the details.

Lastly, we have news from other sources:

From everyone at RTO Insider, thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your day!

Shawn McFarland


Events We Think You'll Appreciate:

Comment by Paul Ackerman on March 12, 2020 at 10:38am

When you examine the type of jobs "created" in Maine that they estimate,the reality (I'll bet) is that the construction of such off-shore wind projects would almost exclusively go to European firms who have the technology to do the work.No one in the US has the capability,let alone any company in Maine. The "jobs" created will be largely shore-side maintenance and supply if that.

Follow the money-- just look at the RTO newsletters online and you will gasp at the international glee at such idiocy by Gov.Mills and others like her. 

Migratory birds? Pah...Eagles? ...well,incidental kills are minor interests? no problem,we'll pay then NOT to fish nearby,they'll be all for it.

Yup,progressives have such a brilliant way of running things--it is all about "we're running things,shut up"

Comment by Dan McKay on March 12, 2020 at 8:23am

"The university has estimated that the project will produce more than $150 million in total economic output, and create more than 550 jobs in the state while it is being constructed."


Comment by Donna Amrita Davidge on March 12, 2020 at 6:36am
This makes me so angry..Ruin Scotland, ruin Maine and be proud of it.. how stupid and greedy is that
Comment by Paul Ackerman on March 11, 2020 at 11:53pm

"Maine is well positioned.." ,where have I heard that line of BS before ?  The reality is Maine is going to be enslaved to a stupid ,uneconomical proposal that will generate subsidies for decades to come and "green power credits" to all the glitterati south of here.

If offshore wind is such a major producer of power in Scotland and Germany,what are the government subsidies there and what are the average power rates for ordinary citizens,eh?  


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

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