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.
Fair Use Notice: This website may reproduce or have links to copyrighted material the use of which has not been expressly authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available, without profit, as part of our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, economic, scientific, and related issues. It is our understanding that this constitutes a "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided by law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.