State approves power-purchase contract with UMaine wind project

The 20-year agreement requires CMP to buy electricity from an experimental floating wind turbine off the Maine coast.

Maine regulators approved a power contract with the experimental offshore wind project led by the University of Maine, an essential next step in the project’s development.

The 20-year power-purchase agreement requires Central Maine Power to buy electricity produced by a floating wind power project built by a partnership between the Maine Aqua Ventus consortium and the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center. A notice of the agreement was posted on the Maine Public Utilities Commission’s website.

The project, supported by $40 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, initially involved deploying two University of Maine-designed floating wind turbines off Monhegan Island. Under initial terms of a 2013 power-purchase agreement, CMP residential customers would have paid an additional 73 cents a month, or $8.70 during the first year of the contract.

A final version of the new contract was not available Tuesday evening.

“The commission is pleased to approve this contract which provides MAV the opportunity to demonstrate the commercial viability of this technology while also providing Maine with a new clean renewable energy resource” said Chairman Philip L. Bartlett in the online post.

Since its initial phase, the Maine Aqua Ventus project has been redesigned to accommodate larger turbines, which have become more common in the wind power industry. The latest revision shows a single 9.5 megawatt turbine, rather than two 6-megawatt turbines, floating off Monhegan. The 6-megawatt turbine was expected to produce enough electricity to power 6,000 homes a year.

UMaine and its partners are trying to capitalize on its unique platform design within the offshore wind industry. Most offshore turbines are anchored in the seabed near shore. But UMaine’s platform is designed to float, allowing the turbines to be sited much farther out to sea, where there are steadier winds and fewer fishing vessels. The distance also means the turbines should be out of the sight lines of coastal and island inhabitants.

The 20-year contract provides an essential revenue source for Maine Aqua Ventus, which it can use to convince private investors to commit to the project. The PUC last year delayed finalizing the contract because commissioners thought energy markets had changed significantly since 2013, and that the contract  should be reopened. The delay sparked concern the project might lose its federal funding.

In June, Gov. Janet Mills signed into law legislation that directed the PUC to sign the purchase power agreement.

“The PUC’s approval of this contract is a major milestone for our state’s clean energy future,” Mills said in a statement after the PUC vote Tuesday.

“Thanks to the innovative work of the University of Maine, Aqua Ventus is poised to become the first offshore wind project in the country to feature a floating platform, an advancement that cements our state’s leadership in offshore wind development and that puts Maine on the map for clean energy technology,” Mills added.

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Comment by Willem Post on November 8, 2019 at 3:10pm

To be invisible from Monhegan, the 650 tall, to top of blade, would have to be at least 15 to 20 miles away from the island, which means more cabling to shore HV grids.

I hope this will be tested in a wind tunnel at 100 mph and with 30 to 40 ft waves.

Such testing may already have been performed in Europe.

Comment by John F. Hussey on November 7, 2019 at 5:12pm

Extremely unstable platforms and lots of constantly moving parts, in this cases many parts moving in different directions and along different axis at the same time creating extreme torques add salt water and electricity what could possibly go wrong??? 

Comment by Penny Gray on November 7, 2019 at 3:07pm

It could possibly take more than 20 years to convince private investors to commit to this project.  In the meantime, Mainers will foot the bill?  Do these things need to be tethered?  How many cables to the ocean floor?  How many floating turbines will it take to power the east coast?  Will whales be able to navigate the network of cables and deal with the infrasound?  Where is this research really leading us?  Bring on the next gen MSRs.  Are there any nuclear engineering students at UMaine?


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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