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Maine Utility Regulators Approve Tests For Floating Wind Turbine Project Off Coast

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press/file
This Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 file photo shows a prototype of the University of Maine's floating wind turbine generator being tested off the coast of Castine, Maine.

Maine's Public Utilities Commission has approved a project that will test a floating platform that will hold up to two wind turbines, near Monhegan Island.

Earlier this year, Maine's Legislature passed a law requiring the PUC to approve the University of Maine's Aqua Ventus project - and the University of Maine recently got a grant of about $5 million to help develop the platforms.


PUC Chair Phillip Bartlett says the Aqua Ventus project could add to Maine's economy by bringing more research and development dollars into Maine. "And also if this takes off, there's a real opportunity for economic development, both in the production and then the rollout of offshore wind turbines in the year ahead."


Bartlett says this turbine could make offshore wind practical in places where you can't put the foundation for a windmill on the ocean floor.


"So I think it really expands the ability to have offshore wind in more places like the coast of Maine," Bartlett says, "and can really generate a ton of electricity at times when we need it here in Maine and around the region."


In a statement, Maine Gov. Janet Mills called the PUC's approval of the project "a major milestone" in the state's effort to reduce carbon emissions. 


"With this key and long-overdue approval, this cutting-edge demonstration project is now on track to move forward and allow us to harness our own clean, renewable source of energy, create jobs, and strengthen our economy," Mills said.


The Aqua Ventus project has had a long road to approval - in part because Maine's former governor, Paul LePage, opposed wind development. In June, Mills signed the bill requiring the PUC to approve the project. It's supported by nearly $40 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy.


Updated Nov. 5, 2019 at 4:22 p.m. ET.

Nora is originally from the Boston area but has lived in Chicago, Michigan, New York City and at the northern tip of New York state. Nora began working in public radio at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor and has been an on-air host, a reporter, a digital editor, a producer, and, when they let her, played records.