Maine fishing interests seek total ban on offshore wind energy

Tux Turkel - May 5, 2021

More than 60 commercial fishermen and their supporters testified Tuesday in favor of a bill that would block any attempt to develop offshore wind projects anywhere along the Maine coast.

The bill would prohibit any state agency from permitting or approving any offshore wind energy project regardless of its location. It was introduced by Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, a commercial fisherman, and co-sponsored by eight other Republican lawmakers.

The testimony on L.D. 101 from lobstermen, their families and town officials from fishing communities drew a clear line in the sand: Any offshore wind development, they told told lawmakers on the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, would threaten the very survival of their iconic industry and way of life.

In his testimony, Faulkingham said offshore wind was the worst kind of green energy, and went on to list examples that, in some instances, conflated fact and opinion. He said offshore wind was three-to-five times more expensive than market prices, which may have been a reference to a single state-approved contract for the power from a demonstration project off Monhegan. He said offshore wind farms would cover 850 square miles, four times larger than Casco Bay, an apparent reference to a megawatt target set by an ocean energy task force in 2009.

He said offshore wind would enrich foreign corporations with taxpayer money, without noting that the private partnership behind the Monhegan project is investing $100 million on top of $47 million in federal grants. And he called nuclear power and Canadian hydro better options, ignoring the steep opposition and multibillion cost overruns associated with nuclear power and the ongoing fight over building a transmission line through western Maine from Quebec.

“It is time to put a permanent halt to offshore wind development,” Faulkingham said, calling it “a science project.”

Asked by a fellow lawmaker if his opposition was a case of not-in-my-backyard, Faulkingham said no.

The massive scale of the turbine platforms, he said, dwarfs land-based solar projects that can be taken down when their useful life is over. With offshore wind, he said, developers will “leave these pieces of garbage in the ocean.”

Jeffrey Alley, a fifth-generation fishermen from Jonesport who said he grew up on a lobster boat, said the inevitable disruption or prohibition of fishing activity near wind projects would be devastating.

“I want to protect my family’s fishing heritage and ensure the future of our fishery for generations to come,” he said in a written statement.

This sort of testimony overshadowed the comparatively few comments relating to a bill introduced by Gov. Janet Mills and sponsored by Sen. Mark Lawrence, D-York.

That proposed law, L.D. 1619, would establish a 10-year ban on wind energy development in state waters, which extend 3 miles from the mainland. The bill was meant to appease the state’s lobster industry, which harvests an estimated three-quarters of its catch in state waters.

But Mills’ proposal, first launched last winter, sank fast and deep with lobstermen. Except for a demonstration project for a single floating turbine expected to be built next year near Monhegan Island, Maine’s near-shore waters aren’t a prime target for wind development, although one developer was reportedly exploring a venture last winter. The offshore wind industry here is expected to take shape in deeper, federally controlled waters, where the Mills administration wants to locate a relatively small wind farm dedicated to research.

Mills’ near-shore pause won support from clean-energy interests as a balanced approach to offshore wind. But fishermen oppose that plan, as well. They say it will threaten an estimated 1,000 lobstermen who make their living in federal waters. The bill doesn’t address those concerns.

But despite Tuesday’s emotional support for an all-out ban, L.D. 101 faces a steep challenge in its current form. The Legislature is controlled by Democrats. A sweeping offshore wind ban would scuttle one of Mills’ signature policy initiatives – fighting climate change through the carbon-cutting goals set out in the state’s Climate Action Plan.

A blanket prohibition also would be ineffective, said Chris Wissemann, chief executive of the $147 million joint venture project off Monhegan, New England Aqua Ventus, because the vast majority of wind leases are in federal waters. Instead, he said, the ban would send a message that Maine is “closed for business” for offshore energy investment.

“But what L.D. 101 would stop is economic development,” Wissemann said, “hundreds, if not thousands, of new jobs, and a burgeoning new industry from developing in Maine. Maine’s loss would be a gain for Massachusetts and New Hampshire.”

More broadly, said Richard Silkman, a Portland energy expert who recently wrote a book about how to electrify Maine’s heating and transportation with renewable energy, there would be no way to power the state in the winter without offshore wind.

“If this committee or the Legislature more generally acts to prohibit offshore wind energy development as proposed in this bill,” Silkman said in his testimony, “then it should be honest with Maine people and simultaneously strike all emission targets and related state policy. It is simply not financially possible to meet Maine’s aggressive climate goals without the development of offshore wind.”

Opposition to Faulkingham’s bill attracted a predictable who’s who of environmental and clean-energy advocacy groups, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Environment Maine, Acadia Center and Conservation Law Foundation. Also against it were the Maine Municipal Association, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, labor unions, Maine’s Public Advocate and the University of Maine, which developed the floating platform technology for the Monhegan project.

But on another level, Tuesday’s testimony also served to highlight an evolving proxy war between political parties leading up to next year’s race for governor.

Late last week, the Republican Governors Association issued a news release headlined: “Mills & Biden team up to destroy lobster industry.”

The release noted President Biden’s announced goal of speeding up offshore wind development in federal waters and combined it with media coverage in Maine of Mills’ plan to site a research wind farm 20 to 40 miles offshore.

“Biden’s & Mills’ plans to implement their extreme environmental agenda of offshore wind will be a death sentence for thousands of family-sustaining fishing jobs in Maine,” the release stated.

It also noted that Mills’ policy stood in contrast to that of former Gov. Paul LePage, “who tried to stifle offshore wind development and who could mount a campaign against her next year.”

LePage is alternately admired and derided for his role in prompting a global energy company to abandon its plans in 2013 to build a $120 million demonstration floating wind farm at a state-approved test area off Boothbay Harbor. The Norwegian company, formally named Statoil, instead built the project in Scotland, where it has set records for offshore wind operating capacity.

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Long Island, downstate must pay for bulk of $1.5B wind-farm upgrades, state says

LIPA argues that ratepayers statewide will benefit from the grid upgrades on Long Island and in New York City, so the costs should be shared equally across the state. But the state Public Service Commission says the lion's share of the cost should be borne by ratepayers in the "energy-congested" regions such as Long Island and New York City that are receiving the upgrade and who it says will benefit more from higher-capacity power lines and other enhancements.

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Offshore wind too ugly for the Hamptons but OK for other beach resorts?

In official comments to the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) submitted July 30, 2018, New York suggested the wind turbines be no closer than 20 miles from shore. This recommendation was based upon an earlier study by BOEM that concluded that 600-foot-high turbines produced a “dominate impact “on the beach view 15 miles offshore. Adjusting for the new 50% taller turbines, the suggested distance from the shore should be 30 miles. In Europe, the closest lease area for these jumbo turbines is 44 miles out. The New York decision begs the question of why lease areas from Maryland to Massachusetts aren’t being rejected on the same merits. 

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Comment by Thinklike A. Mountain on May 9, 2021 at 4:33pm

Newt Gingrich: In My Mind “There Was No Question” all of the Close Battleground States Were Stolen in 2020 Election (VIDEO)

The tide truly is turning when Newt can go on FOX News and not be lectured for making such a bold and honest statement. Of course, Maria Bartiromo is not your average FOX News host.

Newt Gingrich: In My Mind "There Was No Question" all of the Close ...

Comment by Willem Post on May 6, 2021 at 11:31am

Future Build-outs of Offshore Wind Turbine Systems


- MA, RI, and CT are planning to have 8460, 880, and 4160 MW, respectively, a total of 13,500 MW of offshore wind by 2035, much greater than the above 1600 MW.

- If the same simulation were made for 13,500 MW of wind turbines, the up/down spikes would be at least 10,000 MW

- The existing CCGT plants would be inadequate to counteract them, i.e., output curtailments would be required.

- The 2035 date has a ring of urgency to it, but likely would be unattainable in the real world. See page 13 of NE-pool URL


It would take at least 20 years to build out 13,500 MW wind turbines off the coast of New England, plus large-scale solar systems to reduce the NE grid CO2/kWh by about 30%


With that much wind and solar, the NE grid would become very unstable. The NE grid would need:


1) Curtailments of wind output, kWh, on windy days

2) Curtailments of solar output bulges on sunny days

2) Major connections to the Canadian grid

3) Grid-scale batteries, with a capacity of 3 to 4 TWh; turnkey capital cost about $1.5 to $2 TRILLION, at $500/kWh, delivered as AC


NOTE: Nearby countries import German overflow electricity, when it is windy and sunny, at low grid prices (because of a German surplus), and export to Germany, when it is not windy and not sunny, at high grid prices (because of a German shortage). 

The Netherlands is one of the major beneficiaries.

German households get to “enjoy” the highest electric rates in Europe, about 2.5 times as high as the US

Denmark, another wind country, is second!


Maine Offshore Wind Turbine Systems


The ocean waters near Maine are deep. Almost all offshore wind turbines would need to be floating units, anchored at the seafloor with at least 3 long cables.

The 700-ft tall wind turbines would need to be located at least 25 miles from any inhabited islands, to reduce the visuals, especially with strobe lights, 24/7/365

The wind turbines would be far from major electricity demand centers, such as Montreal and Boston.

Transmission systems would be required to connect the wind turbines to demand centers

All that would make the cost of electricity produced by these wind turbines more expensive than those south of MVI.


Maine is in active discussions with stakeholders to add 751 MW of onshore wind turbines.

Maine is not in active discussions with stakeholders to add offshore wind turbines, as shown by the interconnection proposals on page 13 of URL

Comment by Willem Post on May 6, 2021 at 11:30am

All-in Cost of Wind and Solar


The all-in cost of wind and solar, c/kWh is:


1) Price paid to owners 

2) Subsidies paid to owners

3) Grid extension/augmentation (not paid by owners)

4) Grid support services (not paid by owners) 

5) Battery systems (not paid by owners)


Pro RE folks always point to the “price paid to owner” as the cost of wind and solar, purposely ignoring or belittling the other cost categories.


Comments on table 2


- The owners of legacy systems were paid much higher prices, than owners of newer systems. This was especially the case after the onset of competitive bidding, a few years ago.


- Vermont legacy “Standard Offer” solar systems had greater subsidies, up to 30 c/kWh paid to owner, than newer systems, about 11 c/kWh


- Wind prices paid to owner did not have such drastic reductions as solar prices.


- Vermont utilities are paid about 3.5 c/kWh for various costs they incur regarding net-metered solar systems


- "Added to the rate base" is the cost wind and solar are added to the utility rate base, which is used to set electric rates.


- “Traditional cost”, including subsidies to owner and grid support, is the cost at which traditional is added to the utility rate base


- “Grid support costs” would increase with increased use of battery systems to counteract the variability and intermittency of increased build-outs of wind and solar systems.



1) The prices in table 2 should be compared with the NE wholesale grid price, which has averaged about 4.2 c/kWh, starting in 2009, due to low-cost CCGT and nuclear plants, which provided at least 65% of all electricity loaded onto the NE grid in 2019.


- Wind, solar, landfill gas, and methane power plants provided about 4.8%, after 20 years of subsidies

- Pre-existing refuse and wood power plants provided about 4.6%

- Pre-existing hydro power plants provided about 7.4%

- The rest was mostly hydro imports from the very-low-CO2 Canada grid, and from the much-higher-CO2 New York State grid

2) There are O&M costs of the NE grid, in addition to wholesale prices.

ISO-NE pro-rates these costs to utilities, at about 1.6 c/kWh. Charges are for: 

Regional network services, RNS, are based on the peak demand occurring during a month

Forward capacity market, FCM, are based on the peak demand occurring during a year.


3) Each local utility has its own O&M grid costs, in addition to item 2, some of which are detailed on electric bills.


4) Vermont utilities buy electricity from various sources; average cost about 6 c/kWh, plus ISO-NE charges of about 1.6 c/kWh, for a total of 7.6 c/kWh.


Table 2/Vermont & NE sources

Paid to


Grid support


 Added to





to owner



rate base










Solar, residential rooftop, net-metered, new









Solar, residential rooftop, net-metered, legacy









Solar, com’l/ind’l, standard offer, combo








Solar, com’l/ind’l, standard offer, legacy








Wind, ridge line, new








Wind, offshore, new








Comment by Willem Post on May 6, 2021 at 11:28am

Area Requirements of Energy Sources in New England


An August 2009 study for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory examined land-use data for 172 projects, representing about 80% of the installed and targeted wind capacity, in the U.S., and found an average area of 85 acres/MW.


This study includes all area aspects of an energy source.

According to Tom Gray of the American Wind Energy Association, the average is 60 acres/MW. Table 1 assumes an average of (85 + 60)/2 = 72.5 acre/MW


A 1000 MW combined-cycle, gas-turbine plant, CCGT, on 343 acres produces 5.5 times the electricity of a 1000 MW solar plant on 8100 acres, i.e., solar needs 5.5 x 8100/343 = 130 times the land area of a CCGT plant to produce a MWh


A 1000 MW nuclear plant on 832 acres produces 6.2 times the electricity of a 1000 MW solar plant on 8100 acres, i.e., solar needs 6.2 x 8100/832 = 60.4 times the land area of a nuclear plant to produce a MWh


Low-cost CCGT and nuclear electricity: 


- Is not season/weather-dependent,

- Is not variable 

- Is not intermittent

- Has minimal CO2 

- Has near-zero particulates. See tables 1 and 2


Table 1/Source




Ridge line




New England


acre/1000 MW

miles/1000 MW


































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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We have the facts on our side. We have the truth on our side. All we need now is YOU.

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 -- Mahatma Gandhi

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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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