Governor’s Energy Office Seeks Proposals to Conduct Research on Offshore Wind in Gulf of Maine

Maine Governor’s Energy Office releases first Request for Proposals for research topics identified by the Maine Offshore Wind Research Consortium 

November 14th, 2023

Augusta, MAINE – The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) is seeking proposals to conduct research related to offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine, based on priorities identified by the Maine Offshore Wind Research Consortium (Consortium), an assembly of fisheries, wildlife, and marine science and industry experts advising the State’s offshore wind research. Those priorities include pathways to coexistence between fisheries and offshore wind as well as potential social and ecological impacts of offshore wind development.  

The Consortium was established by LD 1619, a bill signed by Governor Janet Mills in 2021. Coordinated by the GEO, Department of Marine Resources (DMR), and Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife, the Consortium is overseen by an Advisory Board that includes commercial and recreational fishing interests, scientists from public and private research institutions, offshore wind industry members, Maine municipalities, Maine-based environmental groups, and Maine state agencies.  

GEO’s Request for Proposals (RFP) was published November 8; it seeks bids from independent, science-based consultants to address these research priorities. In this current round, GEO will invest nearly $1.2 million and anticipates issuing additional research RFPs in the coming months to support the Consortium's effort. 

“As a result of extensive stakeholder engagement and collaboration with partners, we are pleased to publish a call for proposals for two key research objectives that are critical to helping us move responsible offshore wind forward,” said Dan Burgess, Director of the GEO. “Maine is committed to funding this important work as a critical step outlined in the state’s Offshore Wind Roadmap.”   

Enhancing research in the Gulf of Maine is aligned with the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap, an 18-month stakeholder-driven comprehensive plan that offers detailed strategies for Maine to realize economic, energy, and climate benefits from offshore wind, in conjunction with the communities, fisheries, and wildlife of the Gulf of Maine. Findings in the Roadmap underscored the need for investment in research to help guide a planning process that maximizes community benefits and mitigates potential harms that offshore wind could pose in Maine.   

Through this RFP, the GEO expects to make one award for each of the following priority research topics that were identified by the Advisory Board:  

  • Exploring approaches to fisheries coexistence with floating offshore wind (max $250,000)  

  • Inventorying baseline data on socioeconomics of Maine fishing communities to help assess potential positive and negative impacts of floating offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine (max $150,000)  

“This research will help us better understand the potential impacts of offshore wind development on fishing communities, and we are eager to work with the awarded bidders to fill these research gaps,” said Terry Alexander, Advisory Board Co-Chair and commercial fisherman from Cundy’s Harbor.   

The Advisory Board also identified a need to collect baseline data on benthic (ocean floor) habitats in key areas of the Gulf of Maine. This portion of Research Consortium funding will be directly conveyed to DMR, who will subsequently publish a competitive RFP for commercial fishing vessel support and begin benthic mapping work in spring 2024.  

“By obtaining better bathymetric images of key areas of the Gulf of Maine, we will be better able to assess and plan for, as well as mitigate potential ecological impacts of offshore wind development, which has been a key concern raised by the commercial fishing community,” said Patrick Keliher, Commissioner of DMR.   

Other priorities identified by the Advisory Board for future research include socioeconomic impacts, avian species, and ways to realize cost efficiencies in supply chain and workforce development or technology advances in floating offshore wind design and deployment.   

Proposals are due December 5, 2023. For the full RFP, please click here and search for RFP #202310220.

# # #