UMaine prof on Monhegan wind test site, offshore windpower’s future & the end of land-based windmilling. Audio.

At a Maine Wind forum May 20, 2010 at the Rockport Opera House, locations  as varied as Ragged Mountain, Vinalhaven, Monhegan and waters 20 to 50 miles offshore were discussed. The key speaker University of Maine’s Habib Dagher, PhD, leader of the DeepCwind Consortium said that the conflicts over the siting and effects of land-based and nearshore windfarming on health, the pursuit of happiness and the natural environment  are serious and insoluble sources of social conflict.

Instead, Dagher told his audience, deepwater floating windstations 20 to 50 miles offshore will be much more powerful and reliable, and won’t harass their own consumers & wildlife with flicker, noise and infrasound.  The DeepCwind Consortium has received tens of million of dollars to lead the nation in deepwater offshore windpower R&D.   Listen to podcasts of he and other speakers and audience participants below.

Other topics at the forum: a plan for a windfarm on the Camden Hills’  Ragged Mountain, Island Institute on midwifing community wind on Vinalhaven and on its efforts to raise enthusiasm for onland windmills on Monhegan,   Swans Island and Frenchboro,Des Fitzgerald on his novel deepwater windturbine device and  more. A lively Q&A session, too!

Click Here for Part One of the forum (1 hr)  Introduction , Senator Chris Rector; Richard Podolsky environmental consultant; Susan Pude, Island Institute/Maine Community Wind

Click Here for Part 2 of the Forum: (45 minutes) Dr Dagher’s presentation on Monhegan and deepwater offshore windpower

Click Here For Part Three of the Forum ( 50 minutes) Des Fitzgerald, Ragged Mountain proposal; Question &  Answer session.  Scott Dickerson of MCHT -speaking on his own behalf (1 minute)  was not pleased by the Ragged Mtn windfarm plan; why not, he asked send the investment and talent toward  over-the-horizon offshore windpower.

Maine ocean windfarming bill passed into law: Monhegan & more distant offshore get the incentives

Several takes on the conclusion of LD 1810, An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Governor’s Ocean Energy Task Force

What all  sources agree on is that the state  is leapfrogging over state waters to much windier  sites ten miles and more offshore for utility size windfarming. It is also noted that the state will not issue a solicitation for windfarms in state waters  – other than limited R&D in the three R&D sites – including off Monhegan. Malleable as all laws ultimately may be, everything could change, but right now Dr Dagher and the University of Maine-driven DeepCwind Consortium are in the ascendancy and their plan calls for going  over the horizon. Reached April 13th, Willard Harris, director of the submerged lands division of   the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, confirmed no state waters utility or community scale ocean wind farm applications are anticipated or even likely, beyond the R&Ds.

The bill in its final form is  ‘Public Law 615’.   html or word or pdf file It  is a mishmash of changes to a variety of state statutes. Listen to mp3 recordings of the   3/11/10 public hearing  on LD 1810_and its three worksessions.  Includes the March 6th ocean windfarm seminar at 2010 Maine Fishermens Forum.

Maine Lobstermen’s Association April 2010  newsletter has two oceanwindmill articles

Offshore Wind Wire writer Peter Brennan:  “Maine Legislation amended to focus on deepwater wind

Penobscot Bay Blog on “Wind Liberation “

Ocean Wind Bill: divided we stand.

LD1810, the Maine Legislature’s bill LD 1811,to authorize offshore wind leasing seems to be coming apart interestingly. Instead of filling state waters with windmills – a plan that enraged Maine’s fisheries, a new plan has emerged. By Tuesday night we’ll know if it has been adopted. It would be something like this:

1. State Waters: Rather than follow “old Europe” by clogging up our nearshore coastal waters with windfarms,  Maine will preserve her inshore waters for existing users. No windmills in state waters except for those R&Ds off Monhegan. Tidal and wave based power extraction may still be allowed –  on small scales? Tidal won’t work easily in deep water.

2. Federal waters. Leapfrogging windpower extraction straight to floating windmills ten miles out and more. Skipping the shallow waters entirely.

3. Given that offshore electricity has to get to an on-land power grid,  the plan is to run that issue of powerlines coming ashore  past all the affected communities – municipalities fishing,  tourism, aesthetes, etc, then come back in 2012 with recommendations  In the interim, coastal towns and water dependent interests sprout protective ordinances or regulations.

Dr. Habib Dagher,  director of the University of Maine’s  offshore wind program,  told the legislators at the worksession last thursday that floating offshore wind extraction is the answer.

“Rather then build fixed base units in shallow waters, which take a lot of equipment to build  (it’s like like building a boat in the middle of the ocean and affixing it to the bottom of the ocean, thats what the Europeans are doing),  we want to build like Bath Ironworks does: build it  in a drydock.  Float the drydock and tow the whole thing out to deep water.”

“In terms of Maine’s timeline: our goal is build our first demonstration floating turbine, a third-scale turbine about 120 feet above the water – next year and place it in the water the year after  in the Monhegan site.”  Following that, and shaking the bugs out of it,  in 2013  we would build the first 4 or 5  megawatt unit,  and place that in the water. Following that in 2014 and 2015, build our first “stepping stone” farm – a 25 megawatt farm.  The next phase: development of the large scale 500  to 1,000 megawatt farm. We have at least one developer interested to do that and have it operational in 2020.”

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association’s Patrice McCarron responded to Dr Dagher:

“We wholeheartedly support this offshore development. Obviously it passes by the majority of where my stakeholders make their living. So that’s a no-brainer.  When I look at the language here, though;  because the bill is so comprehensive,  and because its laying out the regulatory process to establish this in state waters  – which I fully understand can happen anyway, and probably is a blessing in disguise –  it scares me.”

“What’s missing for me after taking in all this comment, is the legislative findings of the bill which begin on page 14 and page 15;  the sections A-1, 2, 3 and 4.  It doesn’t clearly state that this is the state’s goal:  to pass over this existing technology in state waters, and really focus where the wind resources are greatest.  Those are strictly legislative findings, but for me it really sets the tone for the values and the goals of the state, and I’d like to look at potentially strengthening that and clarifying what the true intention of this is.”

By tomorrow night, we’ll know if Dagher’s Point hits the target:  no windfarms within ten miles of shore or inhabited islands, to protect existing nearshore users, except for Monhegan which, Christlike, would allow its ineffable beauty to be  scourged and,  yea, sacrificed, for the greater good of of the rest of marine Maine.

Then again, there’s a little lawsuit pending, which may keep Monhegan’s views and sonic landscapes free of the lash.

Key Maine legislators tell committee: No windfarms in state waters – bad for fishermen. Monhegan discussed

Thursday March 11th, the Legislature’s Utility and Energy Committee held its  public hearing on LD 1810.

Listen to the legislators and testimony  to them by MDEP,  DMR, Neptune Energy & other would-be wind industrialists, and opponents and supporters of the same. Lance Burton describes  to legislators his life on Monhegan and in Castine and what that makes him think about the bill. LD 1810

Hats off to legislators Leila Percy and Hannah Pingree for insisting on mammoth changes to the bill (2 minute mp3) in response to outrage from theirscalloping shrimping and groundfishing constituents. Specifically, they told the committee to

(1) Turn LD 1810 into a  Resolve directing  Marine Resources Committee and Natural  Resources  legislative committee to take it  to their  commercial fishing constituents recreational fishermen, scenic activists, birders, next session in 2011 to see if the people want this to happen and let the legislators decide from that, not just get a 38 page bill   foisted upon them late in the session, and be told to just bite the bullet and approve it anyway.

Boston-based Neptune Wind exec to Legislators: I want your state's waters

(2) Remove everything from  LD 1810 that would promote  or facilitate commercial windfarm leasing anywhere in Maine state waters.  Then approve the remainder of the bill. this would continue to keep the wind industry happy by giving it tax breaks, if they locate in federal waters outside state waters.  Because it costs a lot more to locate out there.  tax break or not,l keeping them out of Maine state waters – which as the Maine Lobsterman’s Association noted at the hearing  there will be many less entrepeneurs rushing to Maine and grabbing leases.  (The heating oil  industry wants to strip out other non-ocean related parts of the bill)

It is as if a mighty iceberg headed at the Maine inshore fisheries’ Titanic is being successfully turned, by those answering the alarm that now is ringing in desperate peals from Passamaquoddy Bay  to f the Piscataqua. For, if  diverted a few degrees with relentless pressure,   it may harmlessly  pass by our waters, an icy white horseman heading  for some other apocalyptic encounter.

The word from outer Penobscot groundfishers, shrimpesr and scallopers is to either can the bill or

If you care to be involved –  for, against, or neutral – email the Utility& Energy Committee clerk Krisen Gottlieb  and the Marine Resources  Committee clerk  Marianne Macmaster  and let them know of your opinion or insight; they will  get your message to their committees’ members.

Listening as Leila Percy testifies at the hearing

Fishermens Forum – Audio of Monhegan R&D floating windsite talk, other nearshore wind issues

“What does Ocean Energy and Wind Power mean for Maine’s Fishermen?” was title of a seminar at the Fishermen’s Forum in Rockport Maine on Saturday March 6, 2010.  The discussion included a review of the UM  R&D  wind site off Monhegan by scientist Neal Pettigrew,  a description of  the  new bill LD 1810 that would open up all of Maine’s territorial sea to windfarm leasing and much more.  Here as mp3s  is everything that each speaker said at the seminar, in the order they spoke. The Q&A session was brief and I may post it shortly. Read my opinions/observations below the list of speakers’s links if you choose.

Introduction Dierdre Gilbert Maine DMR 2min
Beth Nagusky, MDEP Office of Innovation 13 min
George Lapointe, Department of Marine Resources  5 minutes
Des Fitzgerald, Principle Power 10 Minutes
Peter Hughes, Fishermen’s Energy, New Jersey 12 minutes
Neal Pettigrew, University of Maine  on Monhegan R&D site 11 minutes
Addison Ames, Vinalhaven Electric Coop 10 min
Rob Snyder, Island Institute  10 minutes

My biased observations:  A roomful of fishermen listened silent but very attentive, as the speakers made their pitches for leasing off Maine’s state waters to  the power industry. No questions till all the speakers were done.  One unusual thingw as that  NOBODY got any applause. Not the govt officials of MDEP or DMR. Not the University of Maine scientist, not the  Vinalhaven electric coop official, nor the “Fisherman Wind”  guy from New Jersey or the Island Instituter.   Just stunned silence, as a succession of  maps rolled across the screen showing plans for windfarms the size of  Delaware stretching offshore and onshore.

The Q and A was cut short – notably the panel declined to answer repeated requests for an approximate  number of  windmills they were planning to install in Maine waters. to reach the megawatts the state as set as goals.  The industry people talked very happily in describing the  kilowatts  and megawatts of energy they could pull from Maine state waters ocean winds, but grew vague  when asked to come up with a number of poles that would be placed in those waters. But none of the government officials or wind industry people would offer up even a guess.

One suspects that the public hearing  on LD 1810 on March 11th in front of the Energy and Utility Committee will be well attended!

These  words, of course are my observations and opinions  and may have little to do with reality as others perceive it…

Filling in the interstices: lunar power industry wishes to join wind wannabes in planned Monhegan energy test zone

Resolute Marine of Boston  hopes to add lunar power  energy extractors to the same two square mile area south of Monhegan that the wind industry plans to use to develop giant floating offshore wind turbines, that would be emplaced by the hundreds a few miles east of the  test site in federal waters.  Now, if the photoelectric people show up, sun, moon and wind could all three be pressed into service making electricity for Monhegankind! 

NASA photo

The “thirty pieces of silver” bill.

Some here have wondered about what sort of economic benefits Monhegan might gain from becoming  “host community” to the University of Maine’s wind turbine research operations. What wergild, if any, would be acceptable?

Today at the Maine Legislature,  there was a work session of the Utilities and Energy Committee on LD 1504, which has been renamed and entirely rewritten  as  “An Act to Provide Predictable Economic Benefits to Maine Communities that Host Wind Power Projects.” (copy not available)

To listen to the Committee discuss the LD 1504 on Feb 2, 2010 with Pete Didisheim of Natural Resources Council of Maine, Click Here (15 minute mp3.)

This bill is a try at establishing a payout system to compensate Maine host communities for wind extraction-related degradation of their scenic and other natural assets by the sonic and visual pollution that is sometimes a byproduct of contemporary wind turbine technology.  Compensation is also
being  considered for the no-go areas around and above wind farms set up for safety and security purposes.

Highlights of the worksession At the worksession the Utilities and Energy committee’s staff policy analyst Lucia Nixon  said that  the re-written bill  “will specify community benefit agreements that windpower developers be required to have with host communities, and the nature and level of payments under those agreements, provide more specificity in the statutes regarding tangible benefits, and the documentation of those benefits.

She said the stakeholders (who are they?)  were charged a week ago by the Committee to work together. They met last  Friday, and the Utilities and Energy Committee staffer has been reviewing these stakes’ drafts by email as late as noon today. (2/2/10)

Pete Didisheim of NRCM  spoke at the work session for the selected group of stakeholders who are hammering out the wording of the bill.  Pete told the committee that they’d come a long way in the last week but were “not quite there yet“.  He said the discussion group expects to be done by Tuesday February 9th and would  deliver something  “that  has the full support of the stakeholders and all the parties, and fully vetted through the agencies, the wind comunity and all the interested parties.”

At present, however, he said there are “still a few issues. So rather than present it in its current form, we’d like  to bring you the final product. when we can walk  through it carefully and  describe exactly what we disagree on.”   

One of those issues is who levies such a tax? The affected municipality? The state? Federal government?  “There’s quite a bit of concern as you can imagine,” Pete said,  “about that potentially being siphoned off to…other areas”

So have Pete and other stakeholders been talking to Monhegan?  Are Monheganians feeling “vetted”?

Wind Off the Water

Legal Action. Maine Superior Court  was asked Monday to suspend Bureau of Parks & Lands decision approving  Monhegan offshore wind energy test center, test area. Click picture of complaint’s first page  for 9 pg pdf of  legal petition filed January 25th.Front page of petition sent to ME superior Court re monhegan offshore wind test area. R&D center. Jan 25, 2010

Conservation activist & deep ecologist Ron Huber has asked Maine Superior Court to rule on whether Maine Bureau of Parks & Lands Director Willard Harris followed  two recently passed state laws, 12 MRSA 1868  “Identification of Offshore Wind test areas and  MRSA  35-A, Chapter  34-A: Expedited Permitting of Grid scale Wind Energy Development when on December 14, 2009, he authorized the Monhegan test area, one of three in Midcoast and southern Maine waters. Read Ron’s media briefing explaining why he decided to file the case, his relationship with Monhegan – and media reactions to the case so far.

Background. Maine’s Legislature and Executive Branch have authorized the University of Maine to occupy a roughly 2 square mile deepwater tract 2 miles “south and seaward” of Monhegan Island to test build two deepwater floating wind turbines: a 100 kilowatt wind tower and a ten kilowatt one. Funding sufficient to get the project underway has been secured. As politicians, agency staffers,  academics, entrepeneurs, NGOs and  even two high powered public relations firms are already hard at work on this, so too should the interested public be!   Information is power. Charge yourself up here: Links to documents, reports, charts, maps, photographs, deadlines, contacts, key personnel involved and other information sufficient to equip the viewer for meaningful involvement in this process, and provide a forum for the sharing and vetting of important information as it arises.

Voices of the Wind Rush. Online audio of speakers at Maine Offshore Energy ’09   11/29/09 , at Energy Ocean 2009  June 15-18 , ’09 at the 2009 ME Fishermen’s Forum Ocean Energy Workshop 3/7/09 and on  January 20, 2010:  speakers & legislators at hearing on wind energy bill LD 1504 before the Joint Standing Committee on Utilities and Energy

Your participation, is of course vital to bringing the essence of Monhegan into the decisionmaking mix.   Issues of truth and beauty abound; who  better than those who love and/or live on Monhegan to guide and shape the outcome?

Gull Rock

Gull Rock