April 7th Press Release

FRIENDS OF MUSCONGUS BAY WEIGH IN ON UMAINE’S PROPOSED WIND POWER TEST PROJECT OFF MONHEGAN ISLAND

Bristol, Maine, April 7, 2014 -  “UMaine’s proposed wind power test project to be sited off the shore of Monhegan Island could harm the local fishing industry, kill migratory and native endangered and protected bird populations, run unsightly, potentially dangerous electric hardware through a busy working harbor, harm a popular tourism destination — and ruin one of Maine’s most authentic and special spots on the Midcoast,” says Andrew Fenniman, co-founder of Friends of Muscongus Bay and year round Bristol resident.

“Our organization fully supports the development of alternative energies.  But, this project has failed to convince us that it is good for our local economy, environmentally sound or properly sited,” states Fenniman.  “I have not seen any meaningful efforts to ease the concerns of the fishermen, the landowners and the tourism industry.  I am afraid that a project that will be an environmental and aesthetic blot is going to be rammed down our throats if people don’t get involved.”

The wind power project at issue is a pilot project that is currently competing for a $46 million grant by the US Department of Energy.  The DOE is expected to make its decision next month, in May 2014. 

The plan is to build two 328-foot-tall floating wind turbines, with a maximum blade height of approximately 576 feet above the water, to be sited in state waters in the Gulf of Maine at a location 2.5 miles off the southern coast of Monhegan Island and 12 miles off the coast of the mainland.  These towers will be in full view from Pemaquid Point, one of Maine’s most popular coastal tourism destinations.

The project’s transmission interconnection is proposed to occur at the CMP substation in Bristol, Maine.  Several landing points for the underwater electrical cable are proposed, including New Harbor, a busy working harbor and tourism destination and Long Cove Point, a charming enclave that is a popular swimming spot for children.

The wind power developer is Maine Aqua Ventus GP LLC.  Its three general partners are Maine Prime Technologies, LLC, a spin-off company representing the University of Maine, Emera, a Canadian corporation, and Cianbro, a Maine corporation.   Maine Aqua Ventus is competing for the DOE grant against projects in New Jersey, Virginia, Texas, Ohio and Oregon.

On January 14, 2014, the Maine Public Utilities Commission approved a power-purchase contract for the pilot project.  The above-market rates needed to develop the project would add about $9.00 per year — increasing annually for inflation over 20 years — to Central Maine Power customers’ bills.

“Friends of Muscongus Bay represent all people who appreciate and value the beauty, the wildlife and the local industries of this region.  We don’t want to squelch off-shore wind power, but we want it to be accountable and responsive. Green energy in Maine must be balanced with culture, livelihoods, scenery, natural resources, history - all of which fuel our state’s tourism industry throughout the year and sustain our working waterfronts. If Maine wants to lead the way with wind power, it must do so while preserving its character and finest assets - its legendary coastline and its pristine wilderness.”

Those interested in getting involved and learning more can email the Friends of Muscongus Bay at helpsavethebay@gmail.com or join them at their weekly meetings which take place at 7 PM on Monday nights in the parish hall of the New Harbor Methodist Church, which is on the lower level.