January 10, 2018

PUC hits pause button on Maine Aqua Ventus' power contract

The three-person Maine Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously against giving final approval to the Maine Aqua Ventus offshore wind project's proposed 20-year contract to sell electricity to Central Maine Power, citing the drop in electricity prices that's occurred since its 2014 preliminary approval of proposed terms for the agreement.

Maine Public reported that the PUC expressed concern that the 2014 term sheet — which would have allowed prices for the power generated by two 6-megawatt offshore wind turbines to be installed two-and-a-half miles offshore Monhegan Island to rise to 35 cents per kilowatt hour — could be as much as five times the market price.

"The intent of the statute is to develop a technology that is going to be commercially viable without subsidy," PUC Chairman Mark Vannoy told Maine Public.

Tony Buxton, legal counsel for the Aqua Ventus project, told Maine Public the University of Maine-led consortium pursuing the pilot offshore installation of two turbines, would work with the PUC and CMP to come up with a new proposal for the 20-year power purchase contract.

"We don't see it as a setback, we see it as an exercise of prudence on the part of the commission," Buxton told Maine Public.

The PUC's decision is the latest speed bump for the Aqua Ventus project, whose $40 million of additional funding from the U.S. Department of Energy is contingent on reaching specific milestones and subject to continued congressional appropriations.

In mid-December, the St. George Select Board voted to oppose the project, citing concerns of local fisherman about the potential impact on fishing activities from the project's transmission cable that would connect the turbines to the mainland power grid at Port Clyde on the end of the St. George peninsula.

In response, Maine Aqua Ventus issued a statement that it is "working diligently with state and federal agencies to allow fishing over the cable with both mobile and fixed fishing gear."

Read more

American Jobs Project: Offshore wind could support 2,100 Maine jobs annually

St. George town officials vote to oppose Maine Aqua Ventus

Collins, Carper introduce bipartisan bill to spur offshore wind industry

Monhegan offshore wind project passes key hurdle

Maine offshore wind project back in the running for $40M award

PUC approves UMaine wind project term sheet

Offshore wind project names its price to PUC


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