Legislation authorizes procurement of up to 3,000 MW of offshore wind energy, ensures industry opportunity for all Maine workers and employers, and protects critical lobstering area to reduce impact on commercial fishing
Governor Janet Mills today signed into law LD 1895, legislation to advance offshore wind in Maine by procuring up to 3,000 MW of offshore wind energy, allowing for critical port development, creating opportunity for all Maine workers and businesses in the emerging offshore wind industry, and protecting critical lobstering areas from development.
This legislation marks a major milestone in Maine’s efforts to pursue and benefit from offshore wind’s potential to create good-paying jobs, generate substantial economic activity, stabilize energy costs by reducing reliance on electricity generated by fossil fuels, and mitigate the impacts of climate change on Maine’s people and environment.
The amended bill, sponsored by Senator Mark Lawrence, D-York, is the result of collaboration by legislators, key stakeholders, and the Governor’s Office to help position Maine as a leader in offshore wind, especially innovative floating wind technology designed for deep Federal waters in the Gulf of Maine.
“Offshore wind, done responsibly, offers Maine the opportunity to secure abundant clean energy, stable energy prices, good-paying jobs, and a healthier environment for future generations,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I thank the legislators and stakeholders who, through collaboration and compromise, have positioned Maine to pursue offshore wind in a manner that puts all Maine workers and businesses on a level playing field, invites investments in critical port infrastructure, and importantly, respects those who rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. I am pleased with of the outcome of this legislation and proud to sign it into law.”
The legislation signed today incorporates some provisions of from LD 1847, a separate bill sponsored by Sen. Chip Curry, D-Waldo, regarding siting criteria for offshore wind ports that had been vetoed by Governor Mills because the bill would have excluded many Maine workers. The compromise bill signed today addresses the Governor’s concerns and takes the following steps to advance offshore wind in Maine:
- authorizes the Governor’s Energy Office to establish an offshore wind energy procurement and schedule, to be issued by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, to procure up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind projects by 2040, an amount estimated as needed for Maine to meet its goal of moving to 100 percent clean energy;
- maximizes the opportunity for all Maine workers and employers in the offshore wind industry by allowing all bidders equal opportunity for contracts pursuant to job-quality standards and allows some Maine-based independent contractors to participate;
- enacts new standards to facilitate the construction of a port facility for offshore wind, which is considered critical to unlocking economic investment from offshore wind in Maine. The Maine Department of Transportation is expected to determine a preferred location for an offshore wind port in Maine by 2024.
- protects prime lobstering ground, Lobster Management Area 1, in the Gulf of Maine by giving preference in Maine’s procurement process to offshore wind projects sited outside this critical area for Maine’s fishing industry.
“To combat climate change and invest in Maine’s energy independence, our state has set ambitious goals for renewable energy. It’s clear that this effort will involve offshore wind energy projects. We need to have guardrails in place to make sure this is done right and truly benefits Mainers. This bill will mean jobs, lower and more stable energy prices while combating climate change at the same time,” said Senator Mark Lawrence. “I’m grateful to my fellow legislators for supporting this bill. LD 1895 represents a detailed path to smart offshore wind development.”
"Maine is well positioned to be a leader in renewable energy and offshore wind. This bill will make sure that Maine's workers, ratepayers and economy get the best benefit possible," said Senator Chip Curry. "I'm proud of all the careful consideration that went into shaping this legislation, and I'm eager to see it become law."
“This bill ensures that the buildout of the offshore wind industry in Maine will create good quality jobs with benefits and a highly trained local workforce, lower energy costs for Mainers and protect of our fisheries and environment. This a huge step forward for working people and our state,” said Matt Schlobohm, Executive Director, Maine AFL-CIO. “We applaud Governor Mills’ leadership in developing a clean energy economy that lowers energy costs, benefits Maine workers, and communities and addresses climate change head on. We thank the Governor for her work staying at the table to reach a compromise that is right for the State of Maine.”
“This new law is a model for the rest of the nation for how people can come together to build a just clean energy economy," saidRebeccah Sanders, CEO of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. "Maine has set the stage for a competitive new clean energy industry that will bring thousands of good-paying jobs, protect wildlife in the Gulf of Maine, ensure fishing communities have a voice in the process, and keep us on our trajectory to meet a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040.”
“This is a historic day for the people of Maine and for U.S. leadership in floating wind. This 3 GW procurement is the first of its kind in the country for floating wind and will ensure Maine will lead in floating wind technology,” said Habib Dagher, Executive Director of the of the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center. “It could attract billions of dollars in investment and create thousands of clean energy jobs, stabilize our energy prices, keep more of our energy dollars in Maine, and combat climate change. The clear message to the clean energy industry is that Maine is ready to lead, come work with us.”
The legislation signed today reflects priorities of the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap, a stakeholder-driven comprehensive plan that offers detailed strategies for Maine to realize economic, energy, and climate benefits from offshore wind, in conjunction with communities, fisheries, and wildlife of the Gulf of Maine.
The Roadmap, which was supported by a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency, is part of the Maine Offshore Wind Initiative, a multi-faceted approach to responsible offshore wind in Maine launched by Governor Mills in 2019 and overseen by the Governor’s Energy Office.
As part of the initiative, the State has proposed to lease a site in Federal waters of the Gulf of Maine for a Floating Offshore Wind Research Array. An application for that lease site remains pending before the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Federal agency charged with leasing ocean areas for offshore wind development.
As the first project of its kind in the United States, the research array will foster cutting-edge research into the cost-effective operation of floating offshore wind and how it interacts with the marine environment, wildlife, the fishing industry, shipping and navigation routes, and more.
The array is proposed to include 10-12 turbines on semi-submersible floating concrete platforms known as VolturnUS, designed by the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composite Center. The final size and location of the research site will be determined by BOEM during its leasing review process.
Since the Maine Offshore Wind Initiative was launched in 2019, the pace of the offshore wind in the U.S. has accelerated as clean energy generation targets set by the Federal government and many states increase demand for commercial-scale projects in deep Federal waters, where floating platform technology will likely be required.
In 2022, the U.S. Departments of Energy, Interior, Commerce and Transportation collectively announced a new initiative – the Floating WindShot – to accelerate floating wind by setting a national target of generating 15 gigawatts of energy from floating wind by 2035, and reduce the cost of this energy by 70 percent.
In January, BOEM released its draft area for potential commercial offshore wind leasing in the Gulf of Maine and continues to hold public meetings across New England about its proposed sale of commercial offshore wind leases in the Gulf of Maine in 2024, including recently in Portland, Ellsworth, and Rockport.
As this process unfolds, Governor Mills has pressed the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees BOEM, to involve Maine fishermen in Federal plans for leasing in the Gulf of Maine for commercial offshore wind.
To preserve State waters for recreation and fishing and cement into law Maine’s priority of locating offshore wind projects in Federal waters in the Gulf of Maine, Governor Mills in 2021 signed LD 1619, which prohibits new offshore wind projects in State waters.
Other offshore wind initiatives include the Maine Offshore Wind Research Consortium, an assembly of fisheries, wildlife, and marine science and industry experts advising the State’s offshore wind research; the evaluation of offshore wind port locations, led by the Maine Department of Transportation; and advocating for Maine’s interests in Federal plans for commercial offshore wind leasing through the Gulf of Maine Task Force.