Statoil, an energy company in Norway, is planning to hold public hearings this week to share details of its proposed pilot offshore wind farm south of Boothbay Harbor. The company has been testing a floating offshore wind turbine since 2009 and wants to test the technology in Maine.
Statoil will hold meetings June 25 in Boothbay, June 26 in Rockland and June 27 in Portland, according to the Portland Press Herald. The company plans to share with the public updates on its progress on environmental studies and other permitting requirements for Hywind Maine. It's still early in the process, though; Statoil officials said they won't make a decision about whether to move ahead with the project until 2014.
Statoil's turbines, which have been tested in Norway, are not anchored to the ocean floor but rather float on the ocean's surface. Ola Morten Aanestad, a vice president with Statoil, told Mainebiz the company chose Maine as another test site primarily because of favorable wind conditions and proximity to the New England power market. He said Maine also has businesses in the right industries to act as suppliers for such a project, as well as public support for wind power. The Maine Public Utilities Commission in September 2010 issued a request for proposals for long-term contracts for deepwater, offshore wind energy pilot projects.
According to the application it filed last October with the federal Bureau of Energy Management, Maine is also desirable because research on the area, including ocean conditions and environmental issues, has already been done by the University of Maine in anticipation of its offshore wind test site. The report was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and done in conjunction with James W. Sewall Co.
If it does pursue the project, Statoil hopes to make the turbines operational by 2016. Hywind Maine would be the country's first deepwater floating wind farm. It also has another test site in the works near Scotland.