After reviewing potential impact to fisheries, marine wildlife and navigation within 770 square miles of ocean off southern Maine, the Governor’s Energy Office is now focusing on a 16-square-mile area to site up to 12 floating wind-power turbines.
The preferred site for the research array is an L-shaped swath of the Gulf of Maine, about 25 miles south of Muscongus Bay, according to a report issued Monday.
The office is inviting comments on the site through July 30 to inform its final siting decision, which will be included in a federal lease application to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior that’s responsible for managing development in some offshore waters.
The application will be the first step in a subsequent multiyear permitting process by the bureau, which includes further impact studies and opportunities for public input, according to a news release.
The Governor’s Energy Office will present information about the preferred area during a final research array work session today, July 13, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
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First in nation
“The research array is driven by the need to increase our understanding of floating offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine and the potential opportunities and impacts to the marine environment and existing activities,” the office said in a news release.
The floating array, using technology developed by the University of Maine, is expected to be the first of its kind in the U.S.
The project is financed by a public-private partnership with New England Aqua Ventus, a joint venture of two global offshore wind companies, Diamond RWE and Mitsubishi.
The Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Ironworkers Local 7 and Maine Building and Construction Trades Council have expressed support for the project, saying it will bring good-paying jobs and training opportunities to the state.
But Maine’s fishing industry has raised concerns about the pace of development and potential impact on the industry and the ecosystem.
The state established a variety of parameters for siting the array, including:
• Proximity to existing high-voltage nearshore interconnection points and areas with higher energy demands
• A minimum of 20 miles from shore in order to limit impact to nearshore fishing and coastal viewsheds
• A maximum of 40 miles from shore; a project beyond that would likely require an offshore substation and add prohibitive additional costs
• At 16 square miles, making the lease area smaller than most traditional commercial leases.
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