HEADWINDS FOR MAINE’S FLOATING OFFSHORE WIND PROJECT

The current population of the state of Maine is estimated to be 1.35 million people. In February 2019, state utilities used renewable energy (82.3%), natural gas (16.9%) and coal (0.8%) to generate electricity. Hydropower and biomass are the primary sources of renewable energy in Maine.

Maine’s reliance on hydropower contributes to state’s low electricity costs. In February 2019, the average cost of electricity in Maine was U.S. 11.69 ¢ per kWh, which is the 29th most expensive price in the United States. The average price of electricity in the United States is 12.5 ¢ per kWh.

Concerns about climate change prompted Maine to pass legislation that will continue the development of new renewable energy projects. In February 2017, the Maine Public Utility Commission (MPUC) mandated electricity providers to supply at least 30% of their total electric sales from renewable energy including solar, wind, hydropower, biomass and tidal energy.

Environment groups are actively lobbying Maine legislators to come to the assistance of the University of Maine’s offshore wind project. In June 2019, the MPUC reopened a previously negotiated contract with the university led project. The MPUC has now refused to approve a long-term power purchase contract with the University of Maine’s cutting edge, offshore floating wind project. Maine Governor, Janet Hall is an advocate for this project.

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $87 million for the University of Maine’s offshore floating wind project. The pilot project intends to deploy two floating wind turbines off the coast of Mohegan Island, Maine by 2020. Floating offshore wind platforms don’t require expensive fixed platforms. It is feasible that electricity from floating offshore wind turbines can generate power for only 3 ¢ per kWh.

Maine generates more electricity from renewable energy than almost any other state in America. It is disheartening the MPUC has chosen to obstruct an exciting pilot project that could significantly create significant value for Maine and the United States.

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