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June 7, 2024

Sprague Energy proposes alternative Searsport site for Maine's offshore wind terminal

A rendering of buildings and water in the distance at Sprague Energy campus in Searsport. Rendering / Courtesy, Sprague Operating Resources LLC Portsmouth, N.H.-based Sprague Operating Resources LLC is proposing an alternative to the state’s plan for an offshore wind energy port.

Sprague Operating Resources LLC, based in New Hampshire, is proposing an alternative site for an offshore wind energy port in Maine.

Earlier this year, the state said it would seek funds and permits to develop a $500 million port on 100 acres of state-owned land at Sears Island, off Searsport in Waldo County.

The goal is to build a marshalling port, also called a staging port, which is an assembly area needed to build and deploy offshore wind turbines.

The plan is part of the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap, released by the Governor’s Energy Office in 2023 as part of the Maine Offshore Wind Initiative launched by Gov. Janet Mills in 2019.

Sprague proposal

Sprague operates its Mack Point Terminal about a third of a mile west of Sears Island, across Long Cove.

The company, one of the Northeast's largest suppliers of energy products and material handling services, this week released details of its own proposal for an offshore wind port at Mack Point. Sprague says that location would have less environmental impact than the state's proposal and also have other advantages.

"The Sprague Energy Mack Point Terminal alternative preserves all of our current operations and minimizes dredging and wetland impact while leveraging a facility with over 20 years of wind component handling experience," said James Therriault, vice president of materials handling at Sprague. 

Drawing with color bloks of land and water areas.
The tan-color area is the state’s proposed wind development area on Sears Island, with the Sprague terminal to the west.

The Mack Point terminal has been operating since 1905. 

He continued, “By reimagining this industrial site, we can play an integral role in achieving Maine's offshore wind energy generation goals."

The Sprague proposal, Therriault said, would achieve the state’s goal of minimizing impacts on natural and working lands, while reducing overall cost and providing the same operational and vessel functionality.

According to the proposal, Sprague's Mack Point Terminal offers 100 acres segregated from current activities, a dedicated entrance, and dedicated docks and other areas for the receipt, assembly and launch of wind turbines. 

A dedicated fit-up dock would allow for the use of large assembly cranes to move ultra-heavy components, including wind turbine blades and bases.

The terminal would provide more total dock space than the current Sears Island design, with 1,600 feet dedicated to large vessels and foundations and an additional 1,000 feet for small work boats and tugs, the proposal says.

Sprague has a second large-vessel dock that used for its current bulk and liquid operations but could also double as a backup for the wind port, the proposal says.

In addition, the proposal says, the terminal already has warehousing, administrative offices, work trailers and a 10-acre rail yard that recently underwent a $2 million renovation.

Accommodating offshore wind development would not decrease Sprague’s current operations, the proposal says.

Due to the site’s industrial nature, the Sprague development would result in a lower cost than the state’s plan at Sears Island, with less risk of delays in permitting, the proposal says.

Therriault told Mainebiz that Sprague would offer the state a lease for 65 acres proposed for the project, for a term of at least 25 years. There would be no lease fee on the 35 acres over water. 

“The state has not tried to negotiate the terms with us to date,” he added.

State of Maine proposal

From the construction standpoint, the state's plan starts from scratch and would include purpose-built facilities for floating offshore wind fabrication, staging, assembly, maintenance and deployment on a third of approximately 300 acres that are reserved by the Maine Department of Transportation for development.

However, the state’s proposal is the subject of dispute among environmentalists such as Friends of Sears Island. They oppose siting an industrial project on the 941-acre island, where 600 acres were placed in a permanent conservation easement held by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Friends of Sears Island is a volunteer nonprofit that manages the conservation area and also supports the idea of a wind port elsewhere in Searsport, according to the release.

However, building a wind port on Sears Island “means more than 75 acres of upland forest will be cleared, graded and compacted,” Rolf Olsen, vice president of Friends of Sears Island. “It also means filling 25 acres of pristine Penobscot Bay to extend the shoreline where a previously protected ocean sand dune is located.”

Sprague Energy is hosting community tours of its Mack Point Terminal on June 11 from 8:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. For more information, click here.

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June 7, 2024

Why does nobody talk about all of the failed wind projects in Europe? They spent millions on them, they do not stand up to the elements, cost millions to maintain and you never get enough energy to cover the costs? Why is this a good idea? The only people to really benefit are the Chinese companies selling us inferior products they know will not last very long. Who will be on the hook for all of the maintenance costs and then when they fall apart, who will be on the hook to pay to get rid of them. From what I understand from reading about European tries, disposing of the defunct wind turbines is just as expensive as putting them up. Who is going to pay for that?

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