Maine lawmakers consider charging ratepayers for some offshore wind development costs

By Fred Bever | Maine Public | May 11, 2021

The federal government gave the green light Tuesday to the nation’s first offshore wind energy project, off Martha’s Vineyard.

In Maine, meanwhile, lawmakers are considering whether to charge some costs for this state’s emerging offshore wind sector to electricity ratepayers.

The measure would require state regulators to negotiate a long-term contract for electricity produced by an ocean wind farm proposed by Governor Janet Mills.

The so-called “research array” would test a technology developed at the University of Maine that relies on floating, concrete platforms suited to deep coastal waters. And it could provide data on how such systems would affect local ecosystems and fisheries.

Barry Hobbins, the state’s Public Advocate, told the Legislature’s utilities committee that Mainers should foster the effort.

“The only question is whether Maine leverages this commitment to its advantage while retaining as much control as possible to benefit our entire economy, or whether Maine is a passive bystander,” he said.

Maine’s fishing industries are opposing wind projects within 40 miles of the coast. And one lawmaker said that, as written, the contract measure could amount to a “blank check” paid by consumers. Committee members are expected to submit language that would bolster regulators’ ability to reject unreasonable costs.

The Mills administration is working on a proposal to federal regulators for a 16-square-mile ocean lease, between 20 and 40 miles offshore, for the 12-turbine project.

The array of up to 12 turbines would link to the electricity grid in Yarmouth or Wiscasset.

The Vineyard Wind project just approved by the Biden Administration will feature more than 60 turbines. That project is being co-developed by Central Maine Power’s parent company, Avangrid.

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Comment by Eric A. Tuttle on May 14, 2021 at 10:10am

EUT Work session video

Comment by Penny Gray on May 13, 2021 at 2:11pm

Let the free market rule.  Forcing Mainers to pay for this expensive experiment is bogus.  How is this going to benefit our economy?  Let those who wish to give private donations to UMaine's floating turbine project do so, but leave the ratepayers out of the equation and let the power generated by the turbines be used solely to power UMaine campuses at whatever rate academia is willing to pay.

Comment by Willem Post on May 13, 2021 at 11:02am



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


Maine imposing a tax on the Maine population is pure Dem/Prog RE idiocy.

Floating wind turbines are extremely expensive per MW, i.e., the electricity they would produce would be very expensive

The development of floating wind turbines could go on for many years.

There would be NO CERTAINTY of success.

It would be much better to have PRIVATE ENTERPRISE use its own funds to develop FLOATING wind turbines.


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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