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April 9, 2013 | last updated April 9, 2013 11:39 am

Statoil to decide on offshore wind farm in 2014

As Statoil moves toward regulatory approval for mooring four floating wind turbines in federal waters off the coast of Maine, the company says it is continuing to crunch the numbers on whether the pilot project will be viable.

The Bangor Daily News reported the company plans to make a final investment decision in late 2014 for the project that has sparked opposition from Gov. Paul LePage's administration after the Maine Public Utilities Commission approved electricity rates for the project in January. LePage led criticism of the decision, which approved rates above current market prices.

The project, working in collaboration with researchers from the University of Maine, recently won a $4 million federal grant, which Kristin Aamodt, project manager for Statoil's Hywind Maine pilot, said is a boost but doesn't secure its financial viability.

Aamodt told the paper that if the company decides to move ahead with the pilot in late 2014, it would plan to have test turbines in the water by 2016. If that test shows greater potential, the company would seek to have a large-scale commercial offshore wind farm in place within five years.

The target rate for a commercial-scale development is between 10 to 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, Aamodt said.

For now, Aamodt said Statoil has contracted with the Portland office of Tetra Tech for environmental surveys on the pilot project and with Barton Gingold to manage public relations for Hywind Maine.

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