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Updated: November 29, 2021

Mills plans next steps for offshore wind development at Maine commercial ports

Eastport port showing boats and water Photo / Jim Neuger Gov. Janet Mills has asked officials in her administration to study options for developing offshore wind at Maine's commercial ports including Eastport, shown here.

Calling offshore wind an "unprecedented economic and investment opportunity for Maine," Gov. Janet Mills has directed her administration to study options for possible uses of the renewable energy at the state's commercial ports.

“Offshore wind is a great opportunity to fight climate change," Mills said in a news release last week. 'It also opens up a new world of jobs for Maine people, an economic incentive for young people to stay in their home state or to move here and make it their home.

"It is an opportunity to show the world how much Maine has to offer to the technologies of the future. It is now time, particularly in light of federal funding opportunities, to consider improvements to Maine’s ports."

Led by the Governor's Energy Office, the Maine Department of Transportation and other agencies, officials will look at multiple port development options and study possible offshore wind uses at the ports of Searsport, Portland, Eastport and others, according to the release.

The latest steps come nearly two years after Mills directed the MDOT to study the Port of Searsport to assess needs to support Maine’s offshore wind industry.

A separate MDOT study currently underway will look at other Maine ports. Later, officials will use all the studies as a guide to craft Maine’s Offshore Wind Roadmap, a strategic planning process coordinated by the Governor’s Energy Office. 

Earlier this year, the federal government announced a goal of deploying 30 gigawatts, or 30,000 megawatts, of offshore wind power in the United States by 2030.

In October, the state of Maine applied to lease a little more than 15 square miles of ocean in federal waters, in light of a moratorium on offshore wind development in state waters.

The existing infrastructure, transportation links, deep-water access and room to grow at Maine’s commercial seaports are all seen as a competitive advantage for Maine to develop well-paying jobs in clean energy and other fields related to the offshore wind industry.

“The creation of a comprehensive port strategy could make Maine a premier hub for offshore wind development and serve markets along the northern Atlantic Coast,” said Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. “Embracing this new industry, while preserving our essential fishing industry, will help drive economic growth and prosperity in Maine for decades.”

Searsport Town Manager James Gillway said his town looks forward to working closely with MDOT, adding, "It is exciting to think that Searsport might play a role in the future of renewable energy, thus reducing our country’s carbon footprint and contributing to actually saving the planet.”

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