Maine is set to launch an offshore wind program that will contribute to clean energy initiatives and generate enough power to meet the needs of approximately 900,000 homes. The recently endorsed legislation calls for the issuance of requests for proposals to obtain 3,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind turbines by 2040. This amount of electricity has the potential to fulfill around half of Maine’s current electricity load.
The bill, sponsored by Democratic Senator Mark Lawrence, is not only aimed at addressing climate change but also promises job creation and more stable energy prices. The legislation was revised and combined with another bill, taking into account concerns raised by Democratic Governor Janet Mills regarding labor agreements. The new bill successfully passed preliminary votes in both chambers of the Legislature on Tuesday.
Approval of the bill would bring Maine up to speed with other states that have already pursued offshore wind projects. However, Maine’s offshore wind turbines would be located farther out in the Gulf of Maine and would involve floating turbines. The bill also includes incentives to ensure that wind power developers avoid interfering with lucrative lobster fishing grounds.
The plan also aligns with the ongoing efforts of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which has already approved projects in Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island, while recently granting permission for New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm to begin construction. The Bureau is also planning to conduct an auction next month for leases in the Gulf of Mexico.
The timeline for Maine’s offshore wind program involves completing federal lease sales by next year and releasing requests for proposals to operate the offshore wind turbines in early 2026. The Gulf of Maine possesses strong and consistent winds that make it an ideal location for offshore wind power. However, traditional wind turbines that are anchored to the ocean floor are not feasible in the deeper waters. Maine officials hope to utilize precast floating turbines developed by the University of Maine, which can be constructed on land and then towed to sea.
The endorsement of this bill is expected to provide a significant boost to Maine’s offshore wind industry. With the aim of transitioning away from fossil fuels and mitigating climate change, the U.S. will require approximately 2,000 high-capacity turbines to meet its offshore wind goals.