January 29, 2018

Aqua Ventus project eyes Boothbay cable connection

File photo / James McCarthy
File photo / James McCarthy
Habib Dagher, director of UMaine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center, in front of the VolturnUS prototype wind turbine deployed off the shores of Castine in 2014.

Boothbay selectmen are supporting the University of Maine's efforts to study the feasibility of connecting an undersea cable from the Maine Aqua Ventus offshore wind test site off Monhegan Island to the mainland at Boothbay.

At its Jan. 24 meeting, the board authorized UMaine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center to perform a cable route survey in late March to identify a possible route for burying electrical cables underwater from two 6-megawatt offshore wind turbines that will be installed two-and-a-half miles offshore Monhegan Island to the mainland at Boothbay, according to the Boothbay Register.

The survey is expected to take about eight days to complete.

Earlier this month, the Maine Aqua Ventus pilot wind energy project ruled out Port Clyde as the location where the project's transmission cable would link to the mainland, in response to concerns of lobstermen in the St. George peninsula that they'd be prohibited from fishing in the charted cable-way route once the cable was installed.

A collaboration between UMaine, Cianbro, the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, Naval Energies and 25 other partners, Maine Aqua Ventus is a demonstration project that will deploy two 6 MW turbines on a floating concrete semi-submersible hull designed by UMaine in waters south of Monhegan Island.

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

Tony Buxton, a lawyer representing the project told Maine Public at that time that the project's partners would work with the PUC and CMP to come up with a new proposal for the 20-year power purchase contract.

At their Jan. 24 meeting, Boothbay selectmen indicated they would send a letter to the PUC supporting a higher-than-market price for Aqua Ventus project, the Boothbay Register reported.

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