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Maine Signals Readiness for Commercial-Scale Floating Offshore Wind

Posted on March 15, 2023

The State of Maine recently published the final version of its Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap, sending a strong market signal that the state is increasingly ready for commercial-scale floating offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine. The Roadmap, which I first wrote about in November, makes a series of recommendations to advance commercial scale-floating offshore wind in Maine, including that the state establish an offshore wind procurement target and strategy (“coordinated regionally to achieve cost effective deployment”) prior to BOEM’s lease sale in the Gulf of Maine, currently slated for 2024.

The Roadmap’s co-chairs–Dan Burgess, Director of the Governor’s Energy Office, and Admiral Gregory Johnson–highlighted the role that offshore wind will play in the state’s and regional clean energy future in their letter opening the Roadmap:

“Maine and the surrounding regions will need offshore wind as part of a diverse portfolio of clean energy to decarbonize our current energy supply and replace expensive, imported fossil fuels. Offshore wind is an essential component of our path toward a stronger, healthier, and cleaner energy future… Maine now has an outline on how to lead on responsible development of offshore wind that delivers on its vast potential to secure our energy independence, fight climate change, and strengthen Maine’s economy.”

The Roadmap also highlights the critical role that federal, regional, and private sector collaboration will play, offering steps “to pursue regional transmission strategies, to ensure a stable and predictable investment environment, and to advocate for federal leasing mechanisms that support Maine’s goals, such as revenue-sharing and other considerations.”

The Roadmap’s publication comes just as the state legislature begins to consider numerous energy-related bills, including a draft bill that would establish floating offshore wind procurement targets of 1,000 MW by 2030 and 2,800 MW by 2035. Labor and conservation groups have announced their support for that bill, but its outcome is still far from certain. The state’s executive branch has not yet weighed in on the draft procurement bill.

Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap Creation & Recommendations

The Roadmap is the result of nearly two years of extensive public engagement, led by the Maine Governor’s Energy Office with support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, a 24-member Advisory Committee, four expert working groups, and a series of high-quality technical studies commissioned specifically for the roadmap.

More than 1,000 people participated in the roadmap’s creation, including strong representation from the state’s marine and fisheries, economic development, environmental, labor, municipal government, higher education, and other interests.

The Roadmap is organized around five major objectives, with each further broken down into strategies and supporting actions. Four cross-cutting themes (stakeholder engagement, equity, transparency, and regional collaboration) guided the development of the Roadmap’s five major objectives:

  1. Pursue Offshore Wind Supply Chain Infrastructure and Workforce Investments to Support Economic Growth and Resiliency. This objective is focused on creating economic opportunities in and for Maine, strategically investing in ports and related infrastructure and attracting workforce to support the offshore wind industry. In addition to accessing offshore wind to meet its own climate goals, Maine hopes to bring significant economic development opportunities in-state.
  2. Harness Abundant Renewable Energy to Reduce Long-term Costs, Reliance on Fossil Fuels, and Fight Climate Change. This objective is focused on establishing regional floating offshore wind procurements, pursuing regional transmission strategies, establishing stable and predictable investment environments, and advocacy with respect to federal leasing mechanisms. Industry observers will likely welcome a formal recognition by the Roadmap that “predictable, established, and competitive procurement processes provide the certainty needed to attract cost-effective offshore wind development.”
  3. Advance Maine-based Innovation to Compete in Emerging National and Global Offshore Wind Industry. This objective is focused on continuing Maine’s record of pioneering offshore wind innovation by continuing to develop floating demonstration projects, leveraging the state’s research and development capabilities, and establishing a floating offshore wind innovation hub.
  4. Support Maine’s Vital and Thriving Seafood Industries and Coastal Communities. This objective is focused on continued engagement with marine and fisheries interests, promoting transparency, identifying and minimizing potential conflicts, and advancing opportunities for shared benefits.
  5. Protect the Environment, Wildlife, and Fisheries Ecosystem of the Gulf of Maine. This objective is focused strengthening Maine’s leadership in designing environmentally responsible offshore wind developments and engaging in data-driven decision making to protect the state’s environment, natural resources, and wildlife.

This Roadmap represents a major step forward for the State of Maine. We’ll continue to monitor updates relating to Maine and potential offshore wind procurement activity.


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