Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association: "I was surprised that the university's application was confidential, from top to bottom. It doesn't seem to be the most transparent way. How is the general public, the industry and policy makers to know what to support?" Payne said he also expects UMaine's power contract proposal to be well above market rates.
Library filed under Offshore Wind from Maine
When a proposal to get the state's electric ratepayers to pay higher-than-market prices for power from an experimental offshore wind project comes sealed from public view, it's natural to wonder why. That the proposal comes from a partnership involving the University of Maine, a taxpayer-funded institution, makes it even more curious. The public deserves to know what it may be buying, and competitors need to know that the process is fair.
"Given the risk and uncertainty created by LD 1472, Statoil is therefore preparing to put the Hywind Maine Project on hold, while we continue to assess the changes made to the law, the total risk picture and progress plan going forward. We will keep the option open to re-initiate project activity if a [power purchase agreement] can be concluded according to the term sheet, and the total risk picture in Maine is acceptable," the company wrote in its letter to the PUC.
The truth is that the project's benefits to Maine are ambiguous, while the costs to our state are clear and real -- nearly $200 million will need to be subsidized by Maine families and businesses. This is the wrong direction for developing a new industry and antithetical to improving Maine's business climate and reducing the energy bill burdens on Maine families.
The decision did not please Gov. Paul LePage, who blasted it in a release Thursday afternoon. "Today's decision by the PUC and any policy that raises electricity costs is irresponsible. Maine has the 12th-highest energy costs in the country and this vote forces Mainers to pay even higher prices for the next 20 years," LePage said.
The Maine Public Utility Commission today approved the terms of a project proposal by Norwegian energy giant Statoil to build a $120 million deepwater wind turbine demonstration project in the Gulf of Maine. Commission members voted 2-1 in favor of the proposal, but placed several conditions on their approval that Statoil must meet.
Statoil submitted a proposal last year to the PUC that included the rate of 29 cents per kilowatt hour, roughly double what Maine household customers now pay for energy and delivery. In its new proposal, Statoil trims the rate to 27 cents/kwh. That's still well above market rates and would total $186 million over the life of the 20-year contract.