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For Immediate Release: July 10, 2013
Contact: Patrick Woodcock, Director, Energy Office (207) 441-0359
Maine Public Utilities Commission Seeks Additional Proposals for Offshore Wind Projects
Energy Office Applauds PUC’s Quick Response to Recently Signed Legislation
AUGUSTA – The Maine Public Utilities Commission has initiated the formal process that would allow additional proposals, including one from the University of Maine, to be considered for a long term power contract from deep offshore wind. The request for proposals (RFP) was released yesterday, and it gives entities until September 1st to submit their application. The additional request for offshore wind projects, and purchase of the power generated by them, is in response to legislation (LD 1472) signed just last week by Governor Paul LePage.
Prior to this most recent solicitation, the only deep offshore wind energy project receiving PUC approval and financial subsidy by Maine ratepayers is the 12 MW project proposed by Statoil. This spring, after the Statoil term-sheet was approved, market conditions changed. The University successfully launched a prototype, VolturnUS, through partnership with Cianbro. The existing collaborative relationship between Statoil and the University deteriorated. Moreover, the two entities are competitors for a Department of Energy grant of up to $50 million that is scheduled to be issued early next year. Finally, Statoil has recently informed the PUC that they are not willing to make a final decision on the project until 2015.
According to Energy Office Director Patrick Woodcock, the state is at a critical juncture with respect to moving forward with offshore wind development in Maine. “We should really evaluate what project makes the most sense for the State of Maine,” says Woodcock. “There have been significant developments in the burgeoning offshore wind industry in Maine over the last several months, and it is critical that we determine whether additional technologies may meet the objectives of the Ocean Energy Act and provide more economic opportunities for Maine. While some have suggested that this new solicitation will hinder development in offshore wind, this expedited process will only encourage more competition between technologies, and ultimately more collaboration with the University of Maine. The Governor’s Energy Office looks forward to working to develop an innovative offshore wind project that provides tangible and clear benefits to the State of Maine.”
Once the University’s proposal is submitted in September, the PUC will have until the end of the year to approve or reject the project.