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Federal report raises offshore wind concerns, Mills administrations says Maine project is ‘much different’
PORTLAND, Maine – The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report Tuesday raising questions about the creation of offshore wind energy.
Issues raised by the GAO, a nonpartisan federal agency that provides information to Congress, stem from the Jones Act which requires certain commercial ships to be built and registered in the U.S.
The Mills administration says concerns raised in the report are not as applicable to a project planned off Maine’s coast as they are to other planned installations.
In November, Gov. Mills announced plans to build a first of its kind wind farm for research in the Gulf of Maine.
“The GAO study focused on vessels that install turbines that are fixed to the sea bottom, which are planned for other states. The state of Maine’s planned research array will use floating wind turbine technology, which requires much different construction and installation processes and vessels,” said Dan Burgess, Director of the Governor’s Energy Office.
The Mills administration said the array would likely be 20 to 40 miles offshore in an area that allows for connection to the mainland electric grid with minimal impact on Maine fisheries.
The report cites industry stakeholders who told the GAO there are no Jones Act-compliant vessels capable of doing the job.
The GAO says proposed solutions involve the construction of new vessels that comply with the Jones Act which could, ultimately, be a costly endeavor.
“Stakeholders said that obtaining investments in Jones Act-compliant WTIVs—which may cost up to $500 million—has been challenging, in part due to uncertainty about the timing of federal approval for projects,” the report stated.
The Mills administration said last month they plan to file an application with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management which has to sign off Maine’s planned array.
“As offshore wind technology develops, the state will look to the experiences of other states and countries to learn about best practices for construction and installation, and the vessels needed to do this work, in order to protect Maine’s important marine resources and industries, particularly fishing, and ensure compliance with regulations like the Jones Act,” Burgess said.
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