DOE to Hold Public Input Meetings on Scope of Environmental Assessment for UMaine Ocean Wind Project—
Thursday, February 23, 2017 9:56 AM
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is providing funding to the University of Maine to support the development of the UMaine-led ocean wind project, known as New England Aqua Ventus I. The offshore wind advanced technology demonstration project will consist of two turbines on floating foundations in the Gulf of Maine, about 2.5 miles south of Monhegan Island and 12 miles off the mainland.
The UMaine project is one of three in the nation that the DOE in May 2016 identified as priority projects that address key challenges associated with installing full-scale offshore wind turbines, connecting offshore turbines to the power grid, and navigating new permitting and approval processes. Each of the three has received approximately $10.7 million in funding from DOE. The UMaine project is eligible for up to $40 million in additional DOE funding — after reaching specific milestones and subject to Congressional appropriations and progress reviews.
DOE is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the UMaine project in order to evaluate the potential direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of the project and invites public input on defining the scope of environmental impacts and issues to be addressed in the EA.
The University of Maine plans to install a pilot floating offshore wind farm with two 6-megawatt direct-drive turbines on concrete semi-submersible foundations at a test site off of Monhegan Island. Because of its location in deep waters off the coast of Maine, where traditional foundations are not feasible, University of Maine is developing an innovative floating platform, focusing on commercial-scale manufacturing of the foundation and reducing costs.
The turbine generator is designed to last about 20-25 years and the floating platform has a design life of up to 60-65 years, said Jake Ward, Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development at UMaine. However, Ward said that there is “no current plan for the post 20 year deployment at Monhegan.”
“The guiding laws of the test site ... guide what can be done in the test site,” said Ward. “Since this site is established as the University of Maine Offshore Energy Test site there is possibility of testing future generation offshore wind energy or wave energy devices in the test site, but the number of devices is always limited by statute.”
The project also involves underwater and underground cables needed to connect to Central Maine Power’s distribution line in Port Clyde. Additional project activities and potential impacts from the project would, according to DOE, occur in or near Hampden, Searsport, Port Clyde, Monhegan Island and Pemaquid. The operation, maintenance and eventual decommissioning of the proposed project are considered connected actions and will all be analyzed in the Environmental Assessment (EA).
The DOE’s public scoping meetings provide an opportunity for the public to help define the scope of environmental impacts and issues to be addressed in depth in the EA. DOE will conduct the following public scoping informational meetings:
• On Tuesday, February 28, from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. in the fire department meeting room at the St. George Town Office, 3 School Street in Tenants Harbor. The format of the meetings will be open house.
• On Wednesday, March 1, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Monhegan Island School. The meeting format will be a short presentation with an open house to follow. For instructions on remote participation for the meeting on Monhegan Island, go to, www.energy.gov/nepa/downloads/ea-2049-remote-participation-instructions-available-only-march-1-2017-monhegan-island.
Delays or postponements of the meetings due to inclement weather will be announced on the DOE website, www.energy.gov/nepa/ea-2049-university-maine-s-new-england-aqua-ventus-i-offshore-wind-advanced-technology.
Written comments must be submitted by or before Wednesday, March 22, in order to be considered in preparation of the draft EA. Written comments can be submitted via email at AquaVentus1EA@ee.doe.gov or via mail to Ms. Diana Heyder, NEPA Division, U.S. Department of Energy, Golden Field Office, 15013 Denver West Parkway, Golden, CO 80401.