St. George – The St. George Select Board voted unanimously Monday night, Dec. 11, against allowing power cables to come ashore in the town from a proposed wind turbine project off Monhegan.
The Select Board’s vote stated that the town had no interest in allowing the cables to come ashore in town unless Aqua Ventus could prove there would be no detrimental effects.
The issue has been a contentious one in town for the past several months. Select Board meetings have been dominated by fishermen voicing their opposition. Fishermen had even objected to serving on an ad hoc committee that would study the proposed project.
The town’s Planning Board is working on ordinances to regulate transmission lines and a town-wide vote could occur in February or early spring, Town Manager Tim Polky said. The town manager said state law prohibits the town from banning transmission lines, but it can enact regulations.
At a Dec. 4 meeting attended by numerous fishermen, the opposition remained strong.
Alfred McLaughlin, a member of the Maine Lobster Zone Council that oversees the St. George peninsula, said Aqua Ventus could not be trusted. “I have heard Aqua Ventus from the start before they got booted out of Damariscotta. They have been lying from the start. They are running on an outdated environmental impact study. They want to run that cable through one of the most productive and environmentally sensitive places on this continent,” McLaughlin said, according to minutes of the Dec. 4 meeting.
There is an existing right-of-way for a cable from Monhegan to Port Clyde, but it has not been used since the 1930s or 1940s, Polky said. Traps are not supposed to be placed over that cable path, but since it has not been used, the Maine Department of Marine Resources has not enforced the prohibition.
The New England Aqua Ventus I project participants include Cianbro Corp., the University of Maine and the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, and Naval Energies, according to Aqua Ventus’ website.
The plan, according to the website, is for two, six-megawatt turbines to be erected south of Monhegan Island. Each floating turbine would be held in position in the ocean by three marine mooring lines securely anchored to the seabed, with the electrical generation connected by subsea cable to the Maine power grid on shore.
The floating offshore wind turbine platforms and column segments would be fabricated and assembled at an existing industrial facility adjacent to the Penobscot River in Hampden. Turbine components would be assembled on the hull in Searsport and subsequently towed to the UMaine deepwater offshore wind test site at Monhegan Island.
“We respect the St. George Select Board’s current position. We will continue to be a source of clear and consistent information about Maine Aqua Ventus (MAV) so the public and their representatives can make informed judgments on the project.,” Maine Aqua Ventus stated on its website.
“MAV and UMaine have no current plans to pursue a large-scale commercial offshore wind farm. Fishermen and other stakeholders are invited as key partners to participate in all aspects of this two-turbine demonstration project so we can collectively learn and build a better future for all people of Maine,” according to the organization.
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