by Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Bangor Daily News news story
In a move seen as a major setback for a pilot offshore wind project under development by the University of Maine, state regulators voted Tuesday to reconsider the contract terms by which Central Maine Power agreed to purchase electricity from the project.
The Public Utilities Commission voted in 2014 to allow the UMaine Aqua Ventus project to negotiate a price at which CMP would buy electricity generated by the wind turbines, to be located off the island of Monhegan. But in January, citing concerns about how much of the bill CMP’s customers would be asked to foot — in light of prevailing electricity prices — the commission decided to put the contract on hold while it considered whether to allow it.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine criticized the commission’s vote on Tuesday to reconsider the contract terms, saying it was a “bad faith” decision that reflects Gov. Paul LePage’s anti-wind stance.
In 2013, Norwegian firm Statoil pulled out of a $120 million project in Maine after LePage pushed the Legislature to revisit the contract terms for that project, the group noted in a prepared statement.
Just a few days ago, a report was released that indicated development of an offshore wind industry in Maine could support 2,100 jobs.
“This administration will do anything to thwart renewable energy development, whether it comes from international investors or our own University of Maine,” Dylan Voorhees, NRCM’s clean energy director, said in the release. “Today’s decision is out-of-line with the views of Maine people and with our economic interests. In a poll conducted this April, 72 percent of likely Maine voters said they support actions to create an offshore wind industry in Maine.”
Last year, Lepage supported an ultimately unsuccessful bill that would have banned offshore wind turbine development within 10 miles of Monhegan, he added.