After seven months of contention over Governor Janet Mills’ efforts to ramp up wind-energy development off Maine’s coast, some compromises are emerging — including a permanent ban on wind projects within state waters.

Maine’s lobster industry expressed great concerns last year, when the Governor proposed a 16-square mile “research array” of up to 12 turbines to be floated in federal waters 20 miles or more off the coast — in a partnership with the University of Maine and international wind developers.

This year, she proposed a 10-year moratorium on wind projects closer to shore, in state waters. Roughly speaking, that area extends about three miles off the coast — and it’s where the majority of Maine’s lobster fleet operates. Some fishermen supported the moratorium, but most said it did not go far enough.

In addition to the ban on wind development in state waters, the amended bill would establish an advisory board to set scientific priorities at the “research array” wind farm. That panel would include at least three representatives of lobster and fishing industries.

Before a power line across state waters or related onshore infrastructure could be constructed, she said, the state first would have to complete a strategic plan to minimize conflicts with maritime industries, particularly fishing, as well as potential ecosystem effects.

A comprehensive review of whether state laws are strong enough to protect coastal resources and users would be required as well. And a fund to pay for preliminary research questions identified by the advisory board must be established, with an initial $1 million allotment.

The compromise measure does include a carve-out from the ban on near-shore projects to allow an experimental, single-turbine platform near Monhegan Island to move ahead.

The Mills administration indicated they were reviewing the committee work to make sure it is consistent with her “careful and measured approach” to offshore wind energy development.

Megan Diver

Megan has worked in Maine politics for more than ten years and all of her professional career, having served in many roles for elected officials (including former Secretary of State Charlie Summers), in-house with the Maine Association of REALTORS®, legislative specialist at Pierce Atwood LLP providing lobbying services and support to Pierce Atwood’s government relations clients and most recently senior government relations specialist at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. Megan currently is the Vice President at the Maine Energy Marketers Association, utilizing her vast knowledge and legislative experience at the State House to represent MEMA on policies relating to the Association and its members.