Stacey Fitts: Maine wants to export electricity to major load centers in Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania

Sounds like a potentially terriffic deal - for Fitts' employer, Kleinschmidt Associates.

Maine set to call September bids for 25MW wind farm

Looking to lead US offshore wind development, Maine will request proposals in September for a 25 megawatt pilot-scale project that utilizes floating turbine platforms. The location will be in water at least 300 feet deep, an official involved with the program tell Recharge.

“The idea is to grow this pilot-scale project to one of 300MW,” says Habib Dagher, a professor of civil and structural engineering at the University of Maine.

The developer will be required to finance the project, but will be able to sell power at higher than average electricity prices under a 20-year agreement with state utilities to recover investment. Once a power purchase deal is in place, Dagher expects that lenders will fund the project.

The bidding process will be open to all developers that have a viable floating wind turbine platform design.

Dagher says there will be “other strings attached” that the winning developer will need to adhere to including a pledge to bring manufacturing, and operations and maintenance jobs to Maine.

The state has the best offshore wind resource on the US East Coast and is looking for a long-term commitment from a developer to harvest it. Maine has set an ambitious five gigawatt target for offshore wind by 2030.

The pilot-scale project will use turbines of 3MW, 4MW or 5MW nameplate capacity. “It could be five, 5MW units or six by four or eight by three,” Dagher says.

The project site will be located ten miles offshore, which means it will require approval by the Minerals Management Service (MMS), an Interior Department agency with authority over wind development in federally owned waters in both oceans.

MMS, which also oversees offshore oil drilling, is in turmoil since a 20 April explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig caused a massive oil spill from a deepwater well owned by BP.

Agency director Elizabeth Birnbaum resigned, and President Barack Obama’s administration plans to divide MMS into three parts amid allegations of mismanagement and cozy relationships with oil industry officials.

How all this will play out for the emerging offshore wind industry is unclear, but developers believe it will likely delay efforts to streamline the lengthy and costly permitting process now estimated at a minimum seven and one-half years.

Dagher is more optimistic and believes the revamping of MMS will not cause serious delays for the Maine project.

“The political will is there in the Obama administration to support offshore wind development,” he says. As well, a politically influential group of governors from Northeastern states is working to find ways to accelerate the permitting process.

Stacey A. Fitts, a Republican legislator in the Maine House of Representatives, tells Recharge that the state wants to export electricity to major load centers in Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania.

Fitts is a member of Maine’s public-private Ocean Task Force that examines the potential for ocean-based energy resources.

As reported by Recharge, the state last year selected three temporary offshore sites for testing cutting edge wind energy technology including prototype floating turbines, lightweight materials for blades, and anchoring and stabilization systems.

The sites are within Maine’s territorial waters and do not require federal government regulatory permits.

Richard A. Kessler (richard.kessler@rechargenews.com)

Published: Friday, May 28 2010

http://www.rechargenews.com/energy/wind/article216162.ece

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

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(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 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From 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?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From 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.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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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."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

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