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September 18, 2013

UMaine, PUC asked to release offshore wind proposal

Two environmental groups, the Portland Press Herald and Norwegian energy company Statoil are asking state regulators and the University of Maine to provide all or part of a 100-page university-led consortium's proposal for an offshore wind power project.

The Portland Press Herald reported that the groups Environment Northeast and the Conservation Law Foundation have filed requests with UMaine and the state's Public Utilities Commission under Maine's Freedom of Access Act to gather more details about how the proposal evolved. In their letter to the PUC, leaders of both organizations raised questions about keeping all of the 100-page proposal confidential and about the university's change of heart from one year ago, when it wrote a letter supporting an offshore wind pilot project proposal by Statoil.

A representative for Statoil has also asked for access to the UMaine proposal — not under public information law, but because it is the only developer in the state with an approved term sheet for an offshore wind project.

Both of those projects are in the running for $50 million in federal energy funds.

Tony Buxton, an attorney representing the UMaine partnership, told the paper that the university plans to release its proposal if and when the PUC awards the project a power purchasing agreement. Until then, Buxton said, releasing the details could give other competitors an unfair advantage.

Typically, the PUC puts documents submitted from bidders on its website but allows those bidders to designate commercial information as confidential.

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