Maine poised to be international innovator with investment from Norwegian energy company

AUGUSTA—Today, in a vote of 22-13 the Senate passed an amendment to a bill, LD 1472, to include a provision that undermines the Ocean Energy Act and jeopardizes a $200 million investment in Maine by StatOil, an international ocean energy innovator.

The amendment was offered by Republicans to appease Governor Paul LePage’s upset about the omnibus energy bill.

“It is disingenuous for the Governor to say that he is supporting ocean energy. He’s been crystal clear that is no friend of wind power,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. ”When people think of politics at its worst, this is what they think of.”

The measure, “An Act To Provide for Economic Development with Offshore Wind Power,” was amended to require the Public Utilities Commission to renege on its contract awarded to StatOil earlier this year and, instead, to conduct a second round of competitive solicitations for deep-water offshore wind energy pilot projects.

“The Governor has repeatedly said he wants to kill Maine’s fledgling wind industry, despite the hundreds of jobs that will be created from this project,” said Majority Leader Seth Goodall of Richmond. “The Governor has removed the welcome mat to StatOil; he is changing the rules of the game. What signal does this send to the business community?”

Statoil, a world-leader in the development of offshore, floating wind turbines, has proposed a first-of-their kind floating wind turbines, called Hywind Maine.

Goodall added, “The state of Maine has an opportunity make its mark and become a worldwide innovator. We have an opportunity to create hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, create long-lasting, good paying jobs, and be home to a significant, innovative industry, but tonight’s vote has put that in jeopardy.”

For Maine companies, such as Bath Iron Works, Cianbro, or Reed & Reed, the Statoil project presents an opportunity to diversify their businesses and develop the cutting edge expertise to capitalize on offshore energy projects around the world.

“What kind of business person goes back on their word and undoes a signed agreement? This is a terrible message to send to the rest of the country: our Chief Executive will stop at nothing to prevent job creation,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “This sets a bad precedent for our state. This is bad policy and it’s bad for our economy.”

The University of Maine is collaborating with StatOil to develop the technology for the off-shore wind turbines.

Alfond added, “Tomorrow, I will personally reach out to the folks at StatOil and let them know that we want their business, and the leaders of Maine stand as willing partners to bring their industry and innovation to the state of Maine.”