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Lobster threat to Maine floater

12MW Aqua Ventus due online 2019 but opponents cry foul

Lobster threat to Maine floater image

Maine legislators are considering a bill that would kill the 12MW Aqua Ventus floating offshore wind demo following a public hearing this week at which opponents and supporters of the project went head to head.

Republican senator Dana Dow proposed the law, which would prohibit turbines within 10 nautical miles of the Monhegan Lobster Conservation area, to protect the island’s scenic beauty and tourism culture.

Maine governor Paul LePage supports the bill because the project requires above-market electricity prices.The demo has a draft 20-year power purchase agreement with Maine utilities priced at $0.23/kWh.

The two-turbine project led by the University of Maine has been in the works for a decade and would be located in a test area designated by the state in 2009.

UMaine professor and project lead Habib Dagher doesn't expect the bill to be an issue. “This is the most heavily studied piece of real estate in the Gulf of Maine right now,” he said at an industry event last month.

The proponent expects to sign a community benefits agreement with island residents in the next couple of months.

The Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee will take up the bill again at a working session on 10 May.

The project was awarded $50m by the US Energy Department and must meet certain milestones to receive full funding.

The development consortium includes Canadian utility Emera, European marine energy outfit DCNS and Cianbro, which will produce the concrete hulls in Maine.

The group is targeting a late 2019 commercial operation date.

Image: the VolturnUS prototype, part of groundwork for the Aqua Ventus demo (UMaine)

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