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Maine applies for federal funds to build wind port on Sears Island

The Offshore Wind Port Advisory Group toured Sears Island in November.
Murray Carpenter
Maine Public
The Offshore Wind Port Advisory Group toured Sears Island in November.

The Maine Department of Transportation has applied for $456 million in federal funds so that it can begin constructing a floating offshore wind port on Sears Island.

If approved, the federal grant would cover about two-thirds of the nearly $760 million that the state of Maine estimates it will need to build the port and a heavy-lift semi-submersible barge that's needed to launch the floating wind turbine foundations.

The remaining funds would come from other federal and state grants and anticipated payments as areas are leased to wind developers in the coming years.

The department said there are currently no other sites being considered on the East Coast that could support the construction and deployment of floating wind turbines near the eight lease areas that the federal government recently identified as potential sites for offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine.

According to a timeline included in a lengthy list of project materials released Friday afternoon, DOT said it will spend the next 18 months applying for permits for the wind port through the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

If everything is approved, the state estimates wind port construction starting in 2027 and wrapping up in 2029.

Sears Island as DOT's preferred site for an offshore wind port has sparked a heated debate among some local residents, state lawmakers and others who argue the industrialized Mack Point should be the location of Maine's proposed wind hub.