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Offshore wind task force meets today at UNH

New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts are set to begin planning how they might develop offshore wind energy in the Gulf of Maine.

The first meeting of the tri-state task force takes place all day today at the University of New Hampshire and is open to the public.

The group is led by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, where Jim Bennett is head of renewable energy. He tells NHPR that offshore wind could transform the region’s grid.

“A wind farm offshore is on a scale that’s similar to an onshore nuclear power plant,” Bennett says. “When you’re talking about multiple offshore wind farms, that adds up.”

Federal leasing for offshore wind farms is already underway in Southern New England and down the East Coast. The Gulf of Maine task force will discuss possible locations – and obstacles – to creating similar lease areas here:

“Commercial fishing interests, navigation concerns, safety issues, potential visual impacts – these are the things that help define where we would pursue activities offshore,” Bennett says.

It’ll likely take years before there’s potential for what he calls “steel in the water” – and the possible onshore economic impacts of a new industry – in Northern New England.