The LePage administration's top energy official is calling for greater state scrutiny of an offshore wind power project proposal, called Hywind Maine, by Statoil North America, a Norwegian company.
Ken Fletcher, director of the Maine Energy Office, told the Bangor Daily News that he has concerns about the increased costs that project could incur for ratepayers to companies buying power from Hywind.
In a response to Statoil's proposal for the Hywind project, Fletcher submitted comments to the state's Public Utilities Commission on Sept. 7, stating that the project sets a minimum price of $290/MWh, "which is significantly higher than historic and current prices." Over a 20-year contract term, that would amount to $203 million higher costs for ratepayers, Fletcher wrote.
Bernstein Shur attorney Patrick Scully, representing Statoil, wrote that for an average household customer consuming 500 kWh per month, the rate increase will mean 73 cents more per month.
Fletcher said that he is not opposed to the project, but told the BDN he expects to see more specifics from the company and an evaluation of whether the net economic gain is worthwhile for ratepayers.
"If the 20-year above-market electricity rate impact is $200 million, the economic benefit of a $63 million in regional earnings increase as compared to a cost of $200 million needs to be assessed to determine if there is a net positive gain in economic development in the state," Fletcher wrote in his Sept. 7 comments to the PUC.