AUGUSTA — The state submitted an application to the federal government Oct. 1 to lease 15.2 square miles in the Gulf of Maine for the nation’s first floating offshore wind research array.
The site is about 30 miles from Cape Small in Sagadahoc County, 45 miles from Portland and 23 miles from Monhegan, according to Governor Janet Mills’ energy office.
The application to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), a federal agency that oversees offshore wind projects, asks to erect 12 or fewer wind turbines on floating hulls designed by the University of Maine to learn how they interact with the marine environment, fishing industry and shipping and navigation routes.
“Maine is uniquely prepared to create good-paying jobs across the state and reduce our crippling dependence on fossil fuels through the responsible development of offshore wind technology,” Mills said in a statement. “This small-scale research site 30 miles off the coast will become home to innovative technology developed here in Maine. The research project will help establish the best way for our state to embrace the vast economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind. Fundamentally, I believe that offshore wind and Maine’s fishing industry can not only coexist but can help us build a stronger economy and a brighter, more sustainable future for Maine people.”
There is no specific timeline for the application review by BOEM, but it is expected to take several years before all the permits are in hand and construction could begin.
Maine banned offshore wind development in state waters, which extend about 3 miles from shore, earlier this year. Lobstermen have been among some of the loudest opponents of offshore wind, citing concerns about effects on marine habitat and loss of fishing ground.
Several projects are in the works off the coast of Massachusetts, but in the Gulf of Maine, which has been described as the Saudi Arabia of wind energy, things have moved more slowly.
The state is also working on an economic plan for an offshore wind industry in Maine, which is expected to wrap up late next year.