The following is the text of a press release issued by Maine Gov. John Baldacci:
(AUGUSTA, Maine) — Governor John E. Baldacci today received from the Maine State Planning Office and Maine Department of Conservation the results of a search process to identify demonstration sites for offshore wind technology located in Maine coastal waters.
Three sites were identified by the process, which included reviewing the geography of the coast to meet certain parameters and extensive meetings with stakeholders. The sites are off Monhegan Island, Boon Island and Damariscove Island.
â€œMaine has great potential to be the leader in offshore wind development, and the selection of the demonstration sites is an important step toward that goal,â€ said Governor Baldacci. â€œI want to thank this team that has conducted an extensive outreach effort. They ensured that all voices were heard throughout this selection process.â€
The team from the State agencies traveled up and down the coast of Maine over the last four months talking with fishermen, citizens, local officials and others to determine the best areas to take advantage of Maineâ€™s amazing offshore resources.
The site off Monhegan Island will be used by a consortium led by Dr. Habib Dagher and his team at the University of Maine. The University-led consortium was recently awarded an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for this project. According to Dr. Dagher, the consortium includes more than 30 partners, including private companies interested in offshore wind development.
Maine has been recognized as a leader in wind energy development. There are currently 300 megawatts operating or under construction in Maine, with another 450 megawatts of wind in various stages of development throughout the State. Already, Maine is home to 95 percent of the operating on-shore wind capacity in New England.
The Governor said that the potential of our offshore wind resources is even greater, estimated at 100 gigawatts, or three-to-four times the current peak demand for all of New England.
Maine has established a bold vision of reducing the Stateâ€™s consumption of liquid fossil fuels by at least 30 percent by 2030. Maine has set ambitious but achievable targets for development of wind power.
â€œThe willingness to move forward is a significant investment in this Stateâ€™s future as a leader in renewable energy,â€ said Governor Baldacci. â€œClean energy development will reap investments and jobs right here in Maine.â€
The University has the goal for the first demonstration turbine to be operating in the water in 2011. The remaining two sites that are available for demonstrations of offshore wind or wave energy technology are available to developers, who must begin the process by obtaining an expedited permit through the Department of Environmental Protection.
More information, including maps of the demonstration sites, are available at www.maine.gov/doc/initiatives/oceanenergy/oceanenergy.shtml