Maine labor and conservation groups said Tuesday they are supporting state legislation to develop floating offshore wind turbines in the Gulf of Maine.
By creating a competitive process for wind power companies, the state could see generation grow to 2.8 gigawatts over 12 years, which is enough to power 980,000 homes, according to Maine Audubon and the Maine State Building & Construction Trades Council, two of five groups backing the bill.
“Mainers are facing crippling energy bills because of our reliance on polluting fossil fuels,” said Sen. Mark Lawrence (D-Eliot). “Powering the region with offshore wind will provide the clean energy we need to stabilize electricity prices and meet Maine’s ambitious climate goals.”
At the federal level, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is conducting a study to find the best location for floating offshore wind turbines in federal waters off the coast of Maine.
The state legislation proposes to have the state Public Utilities Commission manage a procurement process for offshore wind, according to the groups. A similar process used for solar projects resulted in a 700% growth in solar in Maine since 2018.
In addition to Maine Audubon and the construction trades council, the bill is supported by Maine Conservation Voters, Maine Labor and Climate Council and the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
“Using technology built right here in Maine and guided by the best available research and data, we can generate clean reliable electricity, create thousands of good-paying jobs for Maine people, and protect the Gulf of Maine’s unique ecosystem and the people and wildlife that depend on it,” Jack Shapiro, climate & clean energy director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said in a statement.
Last week, the governor’s office announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management gave the go-ahead for a small-scale floating offshore wind research array about 45 miles offshore from Portland.
The 15-square-mile site will be used to test research conducted by the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composite Center.