offshore energy

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 “

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?