Maine poised to reap jobs from offshore wind energy

Maine is poised to capture hundreds of jobs when offshore wind takes off and should adopt policy positions to improve its opportunities, according to a new report.

The report by the American Jobs Project said Maine is well-positioned thanks to advances in floating platforms developed by the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center.

It suggests that Maine could see 2,100 jobs if the state adopts “forward-thinking policies.”

The report includes recommendations that include restoring an office that fast-tracked wind power projects during the administration of Democratic Gov. John Baldacci. It was dismantled by Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Other recommendations include establishing offshore wind certificate or degree programs to support a skilled workforce and establishing a Northeast Offshore Wind Innovation Center.

“The U.S. offshore wind sector is about to take off, and Maine has an opportunity to shape this emerging industry,” Mary Collins, co-author of the report and director of the American Jobs Project in Berkley, California, told the Bangor Daily News.

New England already is adding wind projects. A subsidiary of Central Maine Power’s parent company, Avangrid, won the right last month to negotiate a contract for what would be the nation’s largest offshore wind project off the Massachusetts coast.

Avangrid Renewables is a 50 percent stakeholder in the “Vineyard Wind” project, which aims to deliver enough electricity to power more than 400,000 Massachusetts homes.

And Deepwater Wind announced a week ago that it will invest $250 million in Rhode Island and use 800 local workers to build a utility-scale offshore wind farm.

The University of Maine installed a pilot-scale project in 2014 off of Castine. It was the first floating offshore turbine to be connected to the U.S. grid.

The project needs the Maine Public Utility Commission’s approval to get $87 million from the U.S. Department of Energy. The Maine PUC is set to deliberate the so-called “term sheet” for the project on Wednesday.