LD 1810 ocean windmills bill worksession: Monhegan R&D site to be only windmills in state waters? Meeting again Tuesday 1pm

On March 18, 2010, Maine Legislature’s Utility and Energy Committee held a  2 hour work session on LD 1810, the bill to implement the recommendations of the Governor’s Ocean Energy Task ForceScroll down  this page to listen to the speakers and legislators at this worksession. Read the Maine Lobstermens Association’s March 15, 2010 letter to the legislature opposing LD 1810.

Because of the complexity of the 38 page bill,  (see pdf copy of LD 1810 with state waters parts highlighted) the committee could not get through the entire bill and will meet again on Tuesday.

Nothing final yet,  but it  sounds like the ocean wind industry is being forced to drop its plans for building commercial wind farms in state waters. This backdown due to unexpectedly powerful opposition by Maine commercial fishermen, joined by ocean resort and sailing interests. None of them can stomach  the Department of Conservation leasing their fishing and sailing grounds and their views away  to big energy companies out of Boston and New Jersey, which plan to seek 20, 40 and 50 year leases on state waters,  if such leasing were allowed by passage of LD1810 in its original form.

Opponents of nearshore wind may find themselves an unexpected ally in the nascent offshore wind energy extraction industry.  Unlike the nearshore windpower wannabes, who just want subsides to plunk down fields of foreign made turbine  into the state’s nearshore seafloor using off-the-shelf foreign made windpoles and forcing right of ways through mainland property to connect their power cables to the national grid.  By comparison, the offshore wind effort is more like NASA: designing and then sending individual giant technological marvels out into the deeps.

Not surprisingly, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association was heavily courted by ocean wind industry and then put on the spot by scallopers, shrimpers &  groundfishers  before MLAs March 15, 2010 letter opposing DMR’s “Prepare to Share”  support for LD 1810.  That plan was  run up the flagpole by DMR Commissioner George Lapointe (5min mp3)  at the Maine Fishermen and Ocean energy seminar at the  2010 Maine Fishermens Forum.  Prepare to Share would have fishermen negotiate with energy companies for the right to fish in their home waters.  Due to wind industry insurance policy, fishing would be tightly limited and even bannable by the company.

But that’s ancient history… Patrice  McCarron of the MLA wrote to legislators earlier this week: (excerpts)

“…Last year, the MLA cautiously supported the development of wind energy test sites in state waters through LD 1465, as we saw the long‐term value for the people of Maine….. We did so with the understanding, as put forth by the State of Maine, that commercialization of offshore wind energy would be truly offshore – in federal waters only…

. LD 1810 facilitates the commercialization of ocean wind, tidal, and wave energy in state waters. The MLA, and many in the lobster industry, believed state officials who promised that the state’s interests were limited to developing small scale, short‐term test sites in state waters with commercialization

planned offshore. The MLA strongly oppose any permanent commercial development of ocean or wind energy sites in state waters.”

What’s left? Federal and EEZ waters.   While  nothing’s final until after the upcoming Tuesday vote, it appears to be

* No commercial windfarms closer to mainland or island  than ten miles, in exchange for

* No opposition to offshore windfarms  in the outer edge of federal waters and in the EEZ. (wonder what swordboats and offshore lobstermen think of that?

* Monhegan’s R&D site to be only windmills in state waters (if the court upholds the permit.  (Damariscove and Boon Island R&D sites, too  if some commercial outfits opt to  have  R&D projects)

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association is working through the weekend on acceptable wording.  Doubtless other fisheries as well. They better; Nobody else looking ot for them.  The ocean windmill industry is no doubt busy, too,  hoping to reinclude permssion to do windpower in state waters in the bill.  Then all roads lead to Augusta, where, on March 23rd, the bill revisions will be back before the Utility and Energy Committee for a final bit of legislative sausagery.

Listen to speakers at the March 18, 2010 Hearing

* Introduction to the Worksession 4min

* MDEP’s Beth Nagusky describes proposed changes to Bill Part A 17 minutes

* MDEP’s Nagusky Q&A session 11 minutes

* Patrice Farrell, Maine Lobstermen’s Association 3 & 1/2 minutes

* MDEP’s Beth Nagusky describes proposed changes to Part B of LD 1811

* Suzanne Sayre 2 minutes

* John Ferland Ocean Renewable Energy Corp 1 minutes

* Dianne Messer, advocate, Liberty Maine 2 minutes

* Chris O’Neill, Friends of Maine Mountains 1 minutes

* Todd Rousette (sp?) Preti Flaherty lawfirm 2 minutes

* MDEP’s Beth Nagusky describes more changes to Part B

* MDEPs Beth Nagusky on changes to Part C of bill

* MDEP’s Beth Nagusky on changes to Part D of bill

* MDEP Beth Nagusky on Changed to Part E of Bill
* MDEP Beth Nagusky questioned on Part E 7 min

* MDEP Beth Nagusky questioned more 10 minutes

* University of Maine Dr Dagher 12 minutes

* Final stakeholders and close of meeting  11 minutes