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Maine clears 12MW offshore demo

UPDATE: State regulators approve long-term energy contract

Maine clears 12MW offshore demo image

The 12MW Maine Aqua Ventus offshore wind project cleared a critical hurdle today when state regulators approved a term sheet for a long-term energy contract.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission voted 2-to-1 to accept the proponent’s bid to produce an estimated 43,000MWh/year at a price of 23 cents/kWh. The price shall increase 2.25% annually for 20 years.

The panel agreed that the project meets the criteria set out under the Ocean Energy Act designed to kick-start offshore wind development. The proponents demonstrate technical and financial capacity, as well as local economic benefits, ruled the commission.

Aqua Ventus partners UMaine, Cianbro and Emera estimate the project’s capital cost at $120m to $166.7m. The proponent has pledged to spend at least 50% of total costs in Maine.

The commissioners made their approval conditional on the project receiving Department of Energy funding. The two-turbine floating pilot project is competing with five other offshore wind proposals for three awards of $47m.

If Aqua Ventus fails to win DOE funding, the proponents would have to demonstrate additional sources of financing to continue to receive PUC approval.

The PUC is expected to release a written order outlining its full decision and conditions next week.

The proponent meanwhile continues to work on design, engineering, permitting and contracting, UMaine project manager Jake Ward told reNews.

Turbine negotiations are ongoing with a final decision expected in the coming weeks, said Ward. Cianbro will fabricate the concrete foundations while US composite materials fabricator Ershigs will build the composite towers.

“We’ll also be shopping around contracts for the subsea cable and electrical work,” said Ward.

Shore-side construction is slated to start in late spring 2016. The proponent aims to assemble the turbines and tow them to a site off Monhegan Island in summer 2017 and connect to the grid in August of that year.

Image: The 1:8 scale VolturnUS prototype anchored off the coast of Castine (Maine Maritime Academy)

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