Michaud Praises DOE’s Offshore Wind Energy Investments

Dec 12, 2012 Issues: Energy

Michaud led push in House to support UMaine project

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Mike Michaud praised the decision by the Department of Energy (DOE) to invest up to $4 million in the offshore wind initiative at the University of Maine, potentially qualifying Maine for millions more in future funding. Michaud led efforts in the House to support the funding, sending a letter signed by his colleagues. He also called Dr. David Danielson, the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy within DOE, in August to press Maine’s case. More information on the project at the University of Maine can be found below in the letter Michaud sent in July.

Statoil North America, based out of Stamford Connecticut, also received an award to deploy four floating wind turbines in the Gulf of Maine.

“This investment represents another important step forward for Maine’s clean energy future,” said Michaud, a longtime supporter of deepwater offshore wind development in Maine. “These projects will not only help us advance an industry that will create jobs and make us more energy independent, they will help lead to the further diversification of Maine’s economy and open the door to future energy cost saving.”

According to DOE, in the initial phase of grant funding, each offshore wind project will receive up to $4 million to complete engineering, design and permitting. The Department will select up to three of these projects for follow-on phases that focus on siting, construction and installation and aim to achieve commercial operation by 2017. These projects will receive up to $47 million each over four years, subject to Congressional appropriations.

The letter Michaud sent to DOE in July can be found below.

July 10, 2012

The Honorable Steven Chu
Secretary of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC  20585

Dear Secretary Chu,

We write today in support of a proposal submitted by the University of Maine in response to the Department of Energy (DOE) solicitation for Offshore Wind Advanced Technology Demonstration Projects (DE-FOA-0000410).  This proposal is a groundbreaking opportunity to deploy a large offshore wind farm featuring floating platforms to advance new technologies for deepwater floating offshore wind energy through the deployment of a 12 megawatt (MW) pilot floating wind farm.  The operating experience gained by funding this project could open up development of a hundreds of megawatts of commercial offshore wind farms, particularly off the coast of New England, to meet the DOE’s price, installed capacity, and economic benefit objectives related to offshore wind.

This regional effort features a well rounded project team of global leaders in wind development, turbine manufacturing, marine construction, grid connectivity, and large-scale testing/demonstration that can overcome the many challenges to build and deploy the pilot floating wind farm within the aggressive time schedule established by the Department. New England Aqua Ventus I will employ the significant expertise of the University of Maine, University of Massachusetts Amherst, as well as the Maine Maritime Academy. From Iberdrola, the largest wind developer in the world, to Ershigs, Inc, the largest composite material fabricator in the United States, to Central Maine Power, the largest utility in Maine; and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which could be the potential off-taker of electricity, the team has the right experience, expertise, and financial resources to move quickly and get turbines into the water, interconnected, and generating power.

The proposed 12 MW project would demonstrate transformative offshore wind technologies that lower costs and increase reliability, such as pre-stressed concrete floating semisubmersible platforms, advanced composites towers, and next generation direct drive turbines.  A high-value, low-risk location was chosen for the project at the University of Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site at Monhegan Island, which has an extensive and well characterized wind resource, fast track permitting by the state of Maine, and preliminary high quality environmental data for a head start on permitting for deployment.

The proposal gathers together the right partners under a proven project management plan with significant corporate matching fund commitments that greatly exceed the required cost share.  The project would create jobs in manufacturing and throughout the supply chain, including domestic design and production of offshore wind turbine components, system assembly facilities, and installation, operating and maintenance sectors.  Programmatic benefits from this effort include lowering the technical and financial risk to enable construction of utility scale deepwater offshore wind farms near major urban electricity load centers.

We strongly support the New England Aqua Ventus I proposal by the University of Maine and its regional partners. We respectfully request that you give this application your full consideration for award, subject to all applicable laws and regulations.

Sincerely,

Mike H. Michaud
John W. Olver
Chellie Pingree
James P. McGovern