Winds of change



As wind farms proliferate in Hancock County so, too, does resentment among residents who do not wish to share the view with tall towers and spinning blades that reach 591 feet into the sky.

Though no reasonable person can be opposed to nonpolluting energy generation that relies on free fuel, plenty of people can and do object to the loss of vistas. So it would be well to revisit a siting alternative that was going to be the next new thing a decade ago.

Ten years ago, a task force on wind energy saw this moment clearly, when Maine would be in a position to capitalize on its human and natural resources to become a player in the offshore wind industry. Unfortunately, former Governor Paul LePage did not share that vision.

A bill now before the Legislature, LD 994, would direct the Public Utilities Commission to approve a long-term contract with Aqua Ventus, a University of Maine-led initiative to test emerging offshore wind technology near Monhegan Island. It’s the same contract that members of the Public Utilities Commission, all LePage appointees, scuttled last July.

The winds in the Gulf of Maine are “one of the great untapped energy resources on earth” the task force wrote. They could fulfill a “significant portion” of Maine’s energy needs, while partnerships with the university and business community could develop new technologies “with the potential to create and sustain thousands of quality jobs.”

It was clear then that the world would need offshore wind energy to address climate change, and a lot of that resource is in places like the Gulf of Maine, where the water is too deep to secure turbines to the ocean floor. Floating technology is necessary to harness the wind energy, and that technology could be developed and manufactured here, then sold around the world.

Fortunately, Governor Janet Mills has brought the Blaine House back on board with offshore wind. Her office testified in favor of LD 994 last week, and offshore wind development is part of her plan to significantly reduce carbon emissions and keep Maine energy spending at home.

Maine, once in the lead when it came to offshore wind, fell behind. But it’s not too late to raise the sails.

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