UMaine-led offshore wind power project - advocates urge lawmakers to help revive

AUGUSTA — The Mills administration and advocates for developing offshore wind power in Maine urged lawmakers Thursday to revive a floating turbine project that has been stalled with utility regulators for more than a year.

The bill would direct the Public Utilities Commission to approve a long-term contract between the University of Maine-led Aqua Ventus program and Central Maine Power. A PUC decision last June to reopen a previously negotiated contract was viewed by project supporters as yet another setback during the administration of Gov. Paul LePage for Maine to develop an energy sector with enormous economic and environmental potential.

“We were leading on this issue about 10 years ago,” said Hannah Pingree, a former House speaker who directs Gov. Janet Mills’ Office of Policy Management. “Obviously, we had an interim period where the state stopped that motion forward, so we are excited to work with this committee in moving forward.”

States in southern New England and the Mid-Atlantic are moving aggressively to build offshore wind farms in the shallower waters along their coastlines. But the strongest, most sustained winds occur farther offshore in deeper waters, with the Gulf of Maine offering some of the best conditions for offshore wind power.

Engineers at UMaine and its Aqua Ventus partners hope to place two turbines – built on floating platforms anchored to the bedrock – off Monhegan Island. The pilot project is viewed as a major test for floating turbine technology that supporters say could be built in Maine and exported around the globe.

The project received authorization for $87 million in federal funding. But last June, the PUC voted to reopen the long-term power contract amid questions about whether the project met the requirements of a 2009 law and projections that it would raise electric rates for customers.


On Thursday, project supporters asked lawmakers to support the bill, L.D. 994, directing the PUC to approve the long-term contract for the Aqua Ventus project.

Read the full article here:

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Comment by arthur qwenk on May 21, 2019 at 2:17pm


Comment by Willem Post on May 21, 2019 at 10:06am

Erroneous Article in Portland Press Herald


- According to the PPH, Statoil had proposed a $120 million demonstration project for TW0 6 MW Hywind turbines ($10,000/kW) off Boothbay Harbor a few years ago.


My comment: It was justifiably rejected because of outrageously high electricity prices Jane and Joe Worker/Ratepayer would have to pay for 20 years.


- According to PPH, Statoil instead took its project to Scotland, where it has invested more than $200 million (actually $253 million) for FIVE Hywind turbines.


My comment: At the going market price of offshore $4200/kW in 2017


- According to the PPH: “and given that country (Scotland) a head start on establishing itself as developer, manufacturer and exporter of offshore technology. Such potential was recognized by the wind energy task force, which was created in 2008 by Gov. John Baldacci and released its findings in December 2009.”


My comment: That statement is totally naïve and unrealistic. Norway has absolutely no intention of having that outcome (establishing a competitor) with Scotland or with Maine. Scotland’s actual contribution to the project was


1) Making some parts that were shipped to Norway for assembly, and

2) Providing the site and

3) The people paying high prices/kWh for low-value, variable/intermittent electricity for 20 years.

Comment by Willem Post on May 21, 2019 at 10:05am

Hannah Pingree and other Maine's wind bureaucrats in state government are engaging in mindless prattle, eager to do the bidding of various multi-millionaires and foreign companies that may be providing some wining/dining boondoggle trips to “view the Hywind turbines” in Norway and Scotland.


The turnkey cost of those two Hywind turbines would be about $10,000 per kW, versus ridgeline wind at $2,000/kW, and regular offshore, south of Martha’s Vineyard, at $4,000/kW.


That would be at about $120 million for a two 6 MW Hywind wind turbines, plus whatever facilities would need to be built in Maine to support the project.


The turnkey capital cost of the wind turbine plant in Maine would be much higher, because Maine does not have the experience of the Norwegians and the specialized equipment and specialized ships, and other facilities. It would be very costly to build those facilities and ships in Maine, or elsewhere.


Hywind Turbines Highly Visible From Mohegan Island


The 600-ft tall Hywind wind turbines would be in-your-face visible from Mohegan Island, if they were located 2 miles east of the island.


One has to feel sorry for all the residents, but the bureaucrats in Augusta, Maine, do not care about that; there are not enough votes to stop them. Those bureaucrats are hell-bent to use federal and state grants, subsidies,  taxpayer and ratepayer money of already-struggling Joe and Jane Worker to save the world.


Some Questions


Who are these Aqua Ventus multi-millionaire owners pushing for this expensive project?

How much would be the subsidies?

What would be the energy cost/kWh?

How long would the project last before it would have to be repaired?

How would it be repaired?

Would any special ships, facilities be required?

Does Maine have the required, at least 100-meter, deep-water port?

Is anyone looking at the entire picture on an A to Z basis, or are Maine bureaucrats just dreaming/prattling about castles in Spain?

Does anyone think the Norwegians would not want to make money to maintain/service and provide spare parts for their Hywind wind turbines?


Impact on CMP Electric Rates


LePage’s energy director, Steven McGrath, has focused exclusively on the cost of electricity from the demonstration project.


He noted that it would be well above current market prices, adding between $172 million and $187 million to Central Maine Power customer electric bills over the 20-year contract period.


The contract power rate for the 12 MW demonstration project starts at 23 c/kWh in its first year, escalating 2.5% per year for 20 years!!


That is a total rip-off, because Massachusetts pays only an average of 8 - 9 c/kWh over the life of the project.

Main bureaucrats need to learn from Governor Baker.


NOTE: The above prices should be compared with NE wholesale prices, which have been about 5 c/kWh since 2008, courtesy of abundant, domestic, low-cost, low-CO2 electricity from gas at about 5 c/kWh, and low-cost, near CO2-free electricity from nuclear at about 4.5 - 5.0 c/kWh.


This project is insanity on STEROIDS.


One has to feel sorry for the already-struggling Joe and Jane Workers in Maine who will ultimately pay for all this.


For an average CMP home customer, that works out to roughly 73 cents a month in the first year of the project, much more thereafter, due to escalation.

Comment by John F. Hussey on May 17, 2019 at 10:11am

A complete waste of money!  It is not possible for offshore wind to ever produce enough power/income to cover the building and upkeep of that type of installation! It has been proved over and over again if it doesn't work in the private sector there is very little need to throw OUR TAX DOLLARS at "reinventing a wheel".

Comment by Monhegan Resident on May 17, 2019 at 7:53am
Here is my testimony from yesterday

I am a Monhegan resident. Our community just found out about LD 994 on Monday...3 days ago. At first I was shocked. Jake Ward has been telling us for the past year that Maine Aqua Ventus (MAV) has been working with the PUC to review the terms of the Maine Aqua Ventus Power Purchase Agreement. Maine Aqua Ventus (MAV) has been disingenuous since the start of this project, and while the lack of reasonable notice on LD 994 is another example of this, I am here today to present my opposition to LD 994.

The original term sheet was created in 2013. It took MAV 4 years to get 27 people, out of 65 registered voters, on Monhegan to accept a $6,000,000 benefits package. In 2017, they returned the revised term sheet to the PUC. Chairman Mark Vannoy, doing the Commission’s due diligence, gave an extremely thorough and detailed explanation of issues that needed to be addressed. MAV’s partners had changed, the community benefits had changed, and the economic environment had changed. In addition, they didn’t have a landing site for the cable or know the expense associated with it. The PUC made the right decision in delaying approval of the term sheet to review these issues and their impacts.

I have understood that the PUC and MAV have been working since then on this review. The idea that the term sheet approval is now a matter of “emergency” is unexpected and unfounded.

The proposed legislation states:
“Whereas, in the judgment of the Legislature, these facts create an emergency within the meaning of the Constitution of Maine and require the following legislation as immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety…”

There is no emergency. The public’s peace, health and safety are not in jeopardy because of the PUC’s decision to review the Power Purchase Agreement.

If Maine Aqua Ventus does not agree with the PUC’s findings, shouldn’t it be taken up in court? What precedent would be set if LD 994 passes?

Overriding the PUC with legislation, sponsored by a sitting member and former chair of this committee, seems so unfair, unethical, and dishonorable.

Maine can do better than this. Maine must do better than this. Please do not pass this legislation.


Monhegan Island Plantation


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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