Governor Mills is calling for a 10-year moratorium on new ocean-based wind-energy projects in state waters as well as a modest slowdown of a state-led effort to site 12 turbines in federal waters. This proceeds after concerns raised by the state’s commercial fishing industry.
Mills announced in late November the state would seek to place a “research array” of 12 floating wind turbines off Maine’s coast in federal waters, at least 20 miles offshore. Soon after, her administration was contacted by a California developer, Trident Winds, interested in siting a wind farm within the three-mile line that demarks state-managed waters. But the Governor is now asking the Legislature to take that prospect or any inshore wind development off the table for 10 years.
The Governor’s Administration wants to protect the inshore waters where most Maine fishermen operate. Meanwhile, allowing for focus on the 12-turbine proposal for federal waters. The 12-turbine array would be developed by a consortium that includes the University of Maine and international development companies, building on experience gained from a single-turbine project to be developed off Monhegan Island. The Administration had said it would choose a 16-square-mile site off southern Maine and apply for a federal lease as soon as March or April. Fishermen complained that was rushing a process that could set long-term precedent and harm the industry, now the timeline is being extended.
In a press release, the Mills administration notes that the project would likely plug into the regional electricity grid at the former Maine Yankee site in Wiscasset, or at a power station on Yarmouth’s Cousins Island. The next virtual meeting to start scoping out possible sites at sea is set for Feb. 5.
In her letter to fishermen, Mills says small, in-person meetings will be held before a lease application is made, “if Covid-19 numbers decline.”