In a 2-1 vote the commission approved Maine Aqua Ventus’ term sheet to sell electricity for the demonstration project, which will comprise two 6MW turbines on concrete semi-submersible foundations.
Maine Aqua Ventus, led by the University of Maine, is a consortium made up of Emera, Cianbro and Maine Prime Technologies.
The University of Maine has a one-eighth scale prototype floating turbine, VolturnUS, off the coast of Maine. It started operating in June and is the first offshore wind turbine to generate electricity to the grid in America.
The commission’s decision is key for Maine Aqua Ventus’ ability to compete for a $47 million grant from the US Department of Energy.
Central Maine Power (CMP), the utility in whose jurisdiction the pilot project will be generating power, will negotiate the contract as detailed in the term sheet with Maine Aqua Ventus.
The term sheet approved Maine Aqua Ventus to sell electricity to $023/kWh. The PUC will review and approve the final contract.
Maine Aqua Ventus hopes to build a 500MW offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Maine in the future.
In October, Statoil, whose 12MW Hywind floating wind turbine project off Maine was approved by the PUC in January 2013, announced its withdrawal from its plans to develop the project.
In July, the state’s senate passed a bill that allowed the University of Maine to bid to run an offshore pilot project prompting Statoil to stop work on its Hywind project. Statoil is developing its Hywind project in Scotland, UK.