Maine Gov. Janet Mills has signed into law legislation prohibiting new offshore wind projects in state waters. According to her office, the prohibition preserves state waters—where up to 75% of Maine’s commercial lobster harvesting occurs—for fishing and recreation and cements into law Maine’s priority of locating offshore wind projects in federal waters in the Gulf of Maine.
Last month, Mills signed into law separate legislation to advance the state’s creation of America’s first research area for floating offshore wind in federal waters of the Gulf of Maine.
“Maine is uniquely prepared to grow a strong offshore wind industry, create good-paying trades and technology jobs around the state, and reduce our crippling dependence on harmful fossil fuels,” said Mills. “This legislation cements in law our belief that these efforts should occur in federal waters farther off our coast through a research array that can help us establish the best way for Maine to embrace the vast economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind.”
The Mills administration is proposing a smaller-scale research array, which will contain up to 12 turbines, that plans to use innovative floating platform technology developed by University of Maine and a public private partnership with New England Aqua Ventus, a joint venture of two leading global offshore wind companies, Diamond Offshore Wind and RWE Renewables.
Under the legislation signed last month, the Maine Public Utilities Commission is authorized to negotiate a contract with a transmission and distribution utility to purchase up to 144 megawatts of energy from the proposed floating offshore wind research array in the Gulf of Maine.
The governor’s office says that “research from the array will inform development of floating offshore wind in the United States and leverage Maine’s ability to take advantage of its home-grown energy resources in the Gulf of Maine, which has enough clean energy potential to meet all of Maine’s electricity needs alone by 2050.”