Senate and House give initial approve to Lawrence bill to set standards for offshore wind energy projects
AUGUSTA – On Thursday, the Maine Senate and House voted in favor of a bill from Sen. Mark Lawrence, D-Eliot, to set guidelines and standards for any offshore wind project being proposed for the Gulf of Maine. LD 1895, “An Act Regarding the Procurement of Energy from Offshore Wind Resources,” received a vote of 20-13 in the Senate and 74-68 in the House.
“To combat climate change and invest in Maine’s energy independence, our state has set ambitious but necessary goals for renewable energy. It’s clear that this effort will involve offshore wind energy projects. If we know this is coming, we need to have guardrails in place to make sure this is done right and truly benefits Mainers,” said Sen. Lawrence. “I’m grateful to my fellow legislators for supporting this bill. LD 1985 represents a detailed path to smart off-shore wind development.”
LD 1895 would create the Maine Offshore Wind Renewable Energy and Economic Development Program within the Public Utilities Commission to further the development and use of offshore wind energy in the Gulf of Maine. The program’s mission would include establishing standards for local hiring, workforce development and safety; and monitoring the impacts of offshore wind projects on the marine environment and wildlife. It also would establish a competitive bidding process for projects, to ensure that they are supporting Maine’s renewable energy goals and benefitting Maine energy ratepayers. Proposals would have to include mitigation plans for impacts on wildlife, fisheries and the marine environment.
“Offshore wind is likely coming to the Gulf of Maine. How and where these farms are built matters to coastal communities and our State. Incentives to help persuade developers to locate wind farms in certain areas help protect Maine communities and give the State additional influence,” said Nick Battista with the Island Institute, in testimony supporting the bill.
The bill faces further votes in the House and Senate.