The Bristol Wind Power Advisory Committee hopes to determine whether the town has any authority to regulate an offshore-wind project.
“It’s entirely possible Bristol is not going to have a say in this,” Chairwoman Andrea Cox said at the first meeting of the committee Dec. 19.
The committee also needs to figure out “whether the town of Bristol wants this here or not,” Cox said.
The answers to those questions will determine how the committee proceeds.
If the town lacks authority to regulate the offshore-wind project, it might be able to gain some authority through a new ordinance or an amendment to its shoreland-zoning ordinance, Cox said.
If the town lacks authority and cannot do anything to gain authority, it should still stay active to try to protect Bristol’s interests and secure “the best deal” possible for the town, she said.
The committee plans to consult regional and state officials as it gathers information about the project and the town’s options.
Members also plan to build a website to communicate information about the project and possibly conduct a survey of the community.
“We have a lot to accomplish in a pretty short period of time,” Cox said.
The committee will hold its second meeting at 7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 23 at the Bristol town office.
The Bristol Board of Selectmen recently appointed the committee to advise the town on the Maine Aqua Ventus I project.
Maine Aqua Ventus I GP LLC, the entity behind the project, plans to moor a pair of floating wind turbines in state waters about 12 miles southeast of mainland Bristol and 3 miles south of Monhegan by 2017.
The University of Maine developed the technology for the turbines. The university is a partner in Maine Aqua Ventus I GP LLC with Cianbro Corp., a Rockland-based construction and engineering contractor; and Emera Inc., a Halifax, Nova Scotia-based energy company.
An underwater cable would connect the pilot wind farm to the mainland. The company currently plans to bring the cable ashore in Bristol.
Bristol residents have expressed concern about the project, especially regarding the impact of the cable on the lobster and shrimp fisheries. Other concerns focus on the appearance and sound of the turbines and their impact on birds.
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