STATEWIDE – The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted last week to review contract terms for the Maine Aqua Ventus project, and now both sides are reacting to the decision.
The two-turbine research and development project off of Monhegan Island is being run by the University of Maine in Orono.
The PUC wants additional questions answered before they make a funding decision on what would be a twenty year contract, and so they decided to review terms that were made four years ago.
Representatives for Maine Aqua Ventus said they have a positive outlook and want to work with the PUC as further steps are taken. The commission is expected to come out with a written order for U Maine in the next couple of weeks.
Lawyers for the renewable energy project said wind energy has taken off in southern New England , and this project is a way to add jobs and keep the industry in Maine.
“Construction of these platforms for wind all over the world can take place in Maine,” said Anthony Buxton, part of the legal counsel for Maine Aqua Ventus, “because they’re made out of concrete and steel and hard work. That’s something we can do pretty well here in Maine.”
Meanwhile, the Public Utilities Commission will be putting together a written order with questions for project leaders.
Harry Lanphear, an administrative director for the PUC, said several factors have changed since the terms were originally made, including the partnership itself and the interconnection locations.
He also said energy markets are different now, and he said the project would cost Central Maine Power’s ratepayers an estimated $200 million.
Project representatives responded saying the cost of the testing project is below what was approved by the state legislature, when the Ocean Energy Act was passed in 2010.
The PUC said they received more than 300 comments from people interested in the topic, and took that into account.
“We looked very thoroughly at those comments and considered all of them before reaching our formal decision,” said Lanphear. “We really think it’s our responsibility to look out for the public interest.”
The PUC noted they have previously approved other wind projects in the state.