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Maine floater suffers setback

UPDATE: PPA 'key' for the 12MW Aqua Ventus project

Maine floater suffers setback image

State regulators have delayed a decision on a power purchase agreement for the University of Maine-led 12MW Aqua Ventus floating offshore wind demonstration project, citing the high cost to ratepayers.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission said electricity price forecasts have dropped significantly since it gave preliminary approval to a proposed term sheet in 2014 that includes a 23 cents per kilowatt-hour base rate with a 2.25% annual escalator.

The public should also have an opportunity to comment on changes to the project, ruled the commission.

Canadian utility Emera is no longer part of the development consortium, which also includes the Naval Group and Cianbro.

The export cable landing area has also shifted from Bristol to Port Clyde.

The power purchase contract is “key” for the project, said Aqua Ventus lawyer Tony Buxton.

“Millions of dollars" have already been invested to bring the project "much closer to reality,” he added.

Commissioners said they will reconsider the project “at a later date”.

The proponents plan to deploy a two-turbine demo in a test area about 5km off Monhegan Island and 20km from the mainland.

The project qualified for US Energy Department construction grants of $40m, but must meet certain milestones to receive full funding.

The consortium was targeting a late 2019 commercial operation date.

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

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