The proposed contract's likely impact on Maine electricity customers is being shielded from public view, for now.
By Tux Turkel Staff Writer
The developers of a planned offshore wind energy research array have asked state regulators to approve a 20-year electricity supply contract with terms they say are essential to their investing $1.2 billion in a project that could help launch a new renewable energy industry in Maine.
But Public Advocate William Harwood said this week that while he supports the state’s renewable energy ambitions, he’s concerned that the power contract could add to the bills of struggling Maine electricity customers if the proposed price is significantly above wholesale market rates.
“We’ve got an affordability issue,” Harwood said. “There are a lot of people excited about offshore wind, but my job is to make sure people aren’t paying too much for electricity.”
As a practical matter, any impact on electric rates would be far off. The research array wouldn’t be built until late in the decade, at the earliest. But a 2021 law requires a contract to be negotiated within nine months of filing at the Maine Public Utilities Commission. That timeline will make the upcoming process a near-term test of the state’s ability to balance its climate and renewable electrification goals with the imperative to protect ratepayers.
At this point, details of the contract – including the potential cost to ratepayers – are confidential. The proposed terms are redacted in the public version of the filing. The developers asked the PUC to shield that information from public view, in recognition of global competition to develop cost-effective floating offshore wind technology......................
........................ Pine Tree is an affiliate of New England Aqua Ventus, which has been working for more than a decade to build a one-turbine floating demonstration project 14 miles off Monhegan, using the UMaine technology. It will be a full-size version of the one-eighth-scale prototype tested off Castine in 2013 and 2014.
New England Aqua Ventus is in the process of preparing applications for various permits. The estimated operation date has been pushed back several times, but construction is now projected to begin in 2023.
When finally operational, the 11-megawatt turbine would have the capacity to meet the yearly electricity needs of more than 5,000 Maine homes. The cost of the demonstration project for a typical CMP household would be roughly 70 cents per month in the project’s first year of operation, based on a power purchase agreement approved by the PUC in 2019.
Many lobstermen have opposed the Monhegan project, as well. Last year, they engaged in a dispute with survey vessels setting out the route of an underwater cable to the mainland.
Please see the full article, including the public filing at:
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