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State officials visit Searsport sites that could become gateway to offshore wind industry

sears island photo murray.jpg
Murray Carpenter
/
Maine Public
Members of a state working group tasked with finding a suitable port to serve the offshore wind industry toured Sears Island Friday. Later, they toured the port of Mack Point, visible in the background.

As Maine anticipates the development of offshore wind, state planners are looking for a suitable port to use as a staging area. Members of a state working group toured two possible sites in Searsport on Friday.

Two dozen members of the group — representing maritime interests, environmental organizations, and state agencies — first toured Sears Island, where various port proposals have met stiff resistance in the past.

Matthew Burns, executive director of the Maine Port Authority, says the state is planning for wind turbines that can generate up to 20 megawatts, and be up to 800-feet-tall, so the staging area needs to be quite large, and adjacent to deep water.

"So an area that we're conceptualizing right now to be able to build the floating foundations, launch them in the water, and do the wind turbine assembly, we're approximating about 100 acres," he says.

Next, the group visited the port of Mack Point, where the environmental group Friends of Sears Island would prefer the wind port to be sited.

DOT will consider the working group's input, and settle on a site sometime in the next year.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.