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June 9, 2023

Bill that could spur offshore wind development heads to full Legislature

rendering of 3 floating wind turbines SCREENSHOT / COURTESY, MAINE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Proposed legislation to promote offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine was voted out of committee this week and is heading to the full legislature. Maine is looking at semi-submersible foundations, such as these examples. From left, a spar foundation, a semi-submersible and a tension platform.

A bill to further the development of offshore wind energy resources in the Gulf of Maine was approved this week by the Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee and now heads to the full legislature for consideration.

Among its provisions, LD 1895, "An Act Regarding the Procurement of Energy from Offshore Wind," would establish a Maine offshore wind renewable energy and economic development program within the Public Utilities Commission. The bill faces further votes in the House and the Senate. 

Under the program, the commission would be directed to encourage the development of wind power projects in the gulf “that are responsibly sited and advance the renewable energy and climate policies and economic development goals of the state,” according to the text of the bill. 

Other provisions 

  • Establish standards for local hiring, workforce development and safety and promote diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Monitor effects of offshore wind power projects on the marine environment
  • Develop the transmission infrastructure necessary for the state to expeditiously meet its renewable energy and climate goals using offshore wind power projects in the Gulf of Maine
  • Direct the commission to conduct a series of competitive solicitations in order to select floating wind projects for contracts with transmission and distribution utilities
  • Include mitigation plans for impacts on wildlife, fisheries and the marine environment
  • Include a diversity, equity and inclusion plan; a preconstruction stakeholder engagement plan; payment of an amount per megawatt of capacity to a renewable ocean energy trust established within the Department of Marine Resources.

Supported by conservationists

A group of conservation, labor and political organizations lauded the bill as “significant because it includes strong standards for labor, equity and wildlife protection, and includes a unique compromise with fishing interests to avoid development in a key fishing ground,” according to a news release.

The organizations are Maine Audubon, Maine Labor Climate Council, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Union of Concerned Scientists, Maine Conservation Voters, Maine Climate Action Now, Iron Workers Local 7, Laborers' International Union Local 327, Sierra Club Maine, and Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council.

A joint statement said the bill would generate “a historic investment in affordable and reliable clean energy to power Maine’s homes, businesses and transportation” and “includes strong labor standards to ensure new offshore wind jobs are well-paying and family-sustaining, resources to protect the rich array of wildlife in the Gulf of Maine, and key provisions from the fishing and lobstering industry to incentivize offshore wind development outside key fishing grounds.”

“As LD 1895 gains further momentum and heads to the Senate, elected officials in Augusta should take note of this unprecedented demonstration of solidarity, and understand fully that the people of Maine simply will not settle for anything less,” said Jason Shedlock of the Laborers' International Union and president of the Maine State Building & Construction Trades Council. 

Virginia Olsen, Maine Lobstering Union Local 207’s executive liaison and political director, said the bill would protect fisheries and communities.

“This unlikely coalition of labor, environmentalists, social justice organizations and the Mainers I’m privileged to represent, have spoken loud and clear: this can only be done if we work together, engage those who are impacted, and navigate these challenges together,” Olsen said. “LD 1895 is designed to do just that.”

The bill includes a provision negotiated with lobstering groups to avoid conflicts within Lobster Management Area 1, a key fishing ground.

LD 1895 is the culmination of work performed by the Governor’s Energy Office with a variety of stakeholders in a multiyear process to develop the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap. 

The legislation sets a goal and procurement schedule for 3,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy installed by 2040, which can be reevaluated and increased periodically by the Governor’s Energy Office.

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June 9, 2023

So it is OK to hamstring the lobster industry to save a whale that doesn't come into our waters but it is OK to make China rich by putting in wind turbines in the water that are less forgiving than lobster trap lines?? How does this make sense? We will spend millions to create very little energy and then spend millions more to fix and maintain apparatus that has been proven to not do well in water/sea settings. Such a waste of money.

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