Maine ocean wind demo sites to be identified

AP News
Posted: Dec 14, 2009 5:15 PM

Maine will take another step toward bolstering its wind power potential this week when a task force announces up to four final demonstration sites for projects off its coast.

"We've spent a lot of time in this process meeting with people who would be affected by these activities going up in this area of the ocean, primarily fishermen," said state geologist Robert Marvinney, leader of a working group of the Governor's Ocean Energy Task Force. Gov. John Baldacci will accept the group's recommendations when they are announced at the State House Tuesday morning.

State law permits the group to select one to five sites where floating platforms, anchoring systems and new lightweight blades can be tested for deep-water, offshore wind power. In October, the list of potential sites was narrowed to four: near Boon Island off York in southern Maine, near Damariscove Island south of Boothbay Harbor, south of Monhegan Island off Port Clyde and off Cutler in eastern Maine.

The University of Maine, which has received an $8 million federal grant for offshore wind power studies, will be the developer on one of the sites.

Land-based wind power development is already in full swing in Maine, where three major projects are generating power for the grid, three others are being developed and more are on the drawing boards.

Turbines anchored to the ocean floor or on floating platforms farther offshore are seen as a source for enormous volumes of additional clean energy.

While leading a wind-power trade mission to Europe this fall, Baldacci and others traveled to Norway to see the world's first offshore, floating windmill platform. Baldacci wants to import the technology to Maine and make the state leader of offshore innovation in wind power.

The demonstration sites to be announced Tuesday are the floating variety. They must be sited in areas where wind speeds are an average of 17 mph, the ocean is 60 meters or more, are within state-controlled waters and free of obstructions.