The second stage of America’s floating offshore wind turbine energy project gets utilities commission green light

January 15th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Economy, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

The VolturnUS floating offshore wind turbine 1/8th pilot at it's launch. VolturnUS is the only offshore wind turbine in the Americas. photo by Ramona du Houx

The VolturnUS floating offshore wind turbine 1/8th pilot at it’s launch. VolturnUS is the only offshore wind turbine in the Americas. photo by Ramona du Houx

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved in a 2-1 vote for Maine Aqua Ventus’ pilot floating offshore wind energy project, VolturnUS. The opposing PUC commissioner said the project would cost ratepayers too much. In reality the impact of the pilot project on ratepayers is about 75 cents per month per home for the life of the 20-year project. Overall the long-term project could attract $20 billion in private investment and create thousands of jobs.

“There’s 150 gigawatts of offshore wind off of our coast, enough to power the state of Maine 70 times over. It’s our largest resource and we’re making an investment today to figure out how to harvest this resource for future generations,” said Habib Dagher, of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine and project director. “It’s an important day for the state of Maine and an important day for the country.”

Dagher said the vote also represents “an important step” to advance the second Maine Aqua Ventus pilot project, which would consist of two six-megawatt turbines off Monhegan Island. A one-eighth scale floating wind turbine, VolturnUS, was launched off Castine last spring for testing and observation. The “floating lab,” as Dagher calls it, was the first offshore wind turbine in the Americas to produce energy to the electric grid and continues to do so. VolturnUS will be taken out of the water this May.

“The PUC’s decision is the next step in securing the grant for which Aqua Ventus was shortlisted last year, which is critical for the success of this important project for our state,” said Maine Aqua Ventus 1’s Jake Ward.

The Department of Energy grant is worth $46 million and will help create a wind farms, far out at sea, that can produce power at competitive rates.

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Strategic bond investments key to economic growth

August 10th, 2013 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Editorials, State Representatives

Democratic state lawmakers set out this session to strengthen Maine’s economy and grow the middle class. Strategic investments in critical areas are vital to our success. Bonds in key areas like research and development and transportation infrastructure can boost our economy and create jobs.

Legislators will return to the State House next month to address a comprehensive bonding plan. Democrats are ready to work with our Republican colleagues to send Maine voters a thoughtful and strategic plan – one that will jump start our economy, put Mainers back to work and lay the foundation for our future prosperity.

I’m a retired certified pipe welder and was active in my union at the mill. Some of the proudest moments of my career took place when we were fighting for the livelihoods of our members and the success of our company and the surrounding communities. So it’s really painful to see that 48,000 Mainers remain unemployed today, and that some parts of our state our grappling with unemployment rates of nearly 10 percent.

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US Wind energy production/manufacturing reaches record highs and costs go down

August 10th, 2013 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

The Energy Department released two new reports today showcasing record growth across the U.S. wind market — increasing America’s share of clean, renewable energy and supporting tens of thousands of jobs nationwide. According to these reports, the United States continues to be one of the world’s largest and fastest growing wind markets. In 2012, wind energy became the number one source of new U.S. electricity generation capacity for the first time – representing 43 percent of all new electric additions and accounting for $25 billion in U.S. investment.

In the first four years of the Obama Administration, American electricity generation from wind and solar power more than doubled. President Obama’s Climate Action Plan makes clear that the growth of clean, renewable wind energy remains a critical part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy that reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions, diversifies our energy economy and brings innovative technologies on line. The Obama Administration has committed to another doubling of the renewable electricity generation from energy resources like wind power by 2020.

“The tremendous growth in the U.S. wind industry over the past few years underscores the importance of consistent policy that ensures America remains a leader in clean energy innovation,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As the fastest growing source of power in the United States, wind is paving the way to a cleaner, more sustainable future that protects our air and water and provides affordable, clean renewable energy to more and more Americans.”

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Pres. Obama calls for rebuilding the middle class

July 29th, 2013 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Economy, News from Washington


President Barack Obama pledged to devote every day he has left in office to rebuilding the middle class. He made the promise adding that there are measures he can do without Congressional approval, during two speeches in Illinois last week.

Obama promised to continue to define his effort to lessen inequities and better prepare workers to compete globally in the days ahead. He said want to invest in innovation for that has always been and will continue to be the bedrock of our economy. And funds for research and development need to be increased so America can remain a leader in the 21st century global economy. Cutting edge technologies should be created here but businesses need the expertise from American researchers at universities – that’s how the Internet came to be and how we put humankind on the moon. Even Steve Jobs couldn’t do it all on his own.

He’s pushing for access to quality education from preschool to college, infrastructure upgrades, good-paying jobs, homeownership, secure retirements and affordable health care.

And while Republicans are focused on bringing down the deficit they have neglected that it has gone down by half since Obama became President. The Sequester has furloughed over 600,000 government workers and is hurting the economy but too many extremists in the Republican Party refuse to negotiate a better solution Republicans have also threatened to shut down government with no budget by Oct. 1, 2013, followed shortly by another debt ceiling showdown.

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Rep. Ann Dorney to host energy expo in Madison, Maine

July 18th, 2013 · No Comments · Capitol news, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

Rep. Ann Dorney will be hosting an energy expo from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 3, at the Madison Memorial High School in Madison, Maine. Rep. Dorney had the idea for and information energy expo when she realized how much money was being spent on energy in her community and that there are alternative ways to save some of those funds.

“We have some of the oldest houses in the country,” said Rep. Dorney. “Many of them are not adequately insulated, which means that many of my neighbors, who are on fixed incomes, pay more towards heating costs.”

Many businesses from the energy industry will be attending the event. Informational sessions will be held on topics including geothermal energy, natural gas, energy audits, small-scale wind power projects, solar options, government programs that help finance energy upgrades, home weatherization, biomass, calculating your carbon footprint, hybrid and electric cars, heat exchangers and many others.

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Gov. LePage makes business unwelcome- rejects huge wind power opportunity

July 5th, 2013 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Editorials, State Representatives

In the past week, Maine has been front and center in the editorial pages of the Boston Globe, Washington Post, and national TV news. Unfortunately, not touting the good things about Maine, our resources, our businesses, or our people. Instead, we are making headlines because of our governor’s outbursts and vulgar sexual remarks. It’s been said before, his behavior is not fitting in a school yard and certainly isn’t fitting of our state’s highest leader.

Maine has a long history of political firsts…a history of having leaders who are world-renowned and respected, from Margaret Chase Smith to George Mitchell, Bill Cohen, Ed Muskie, and Olympia Snowe just to name a few. These are leaders who not only got things done for Maine, for us, they thrust Maine in to the national and sometimes international spot light for being home to some of the best and brightest, most diplomatic and practical lawmakers in history.

Sadly, we are making a different kind of history these days. We have a governor who not only makes headlines for his temper tantrums but also for turning away opportunity for this state. Economic opportunity. Business opportunity.

Governor LePage is known for saying, “capital goes where it’s welcome and stays where it’s appreciated.”

I agree.
 
And so, why then, is there another round of headlines talking about a $200 million dollar business slipping away?

More than a year ago, StatOil, a Norwegian energy innovator, chose Maine as its foothold for a first of its kind off-shore energy project. A project that would employ thousands of people over time and have an economic spin off to other local industries and businesses like BIW, Reed & Reed, and Cianbro, just to name a few. But better yet, it is a unique opportunity to be the home to a significant new cutting-edge industry. The University of Maine said attracting StatOil to Maine is like attracting the next Apple, GM or Google to Maine. The opportunity to play host for world-wide innovator is rare.
 
But, unfortunately, this week, StatOil has put its plans on hold and is re-evaluating its interest in doing business in Maine. Why? Because the governor, in a last-minute political maneuver, pulled the welcome mat out from underneath StatOil. He changed the rules of the game and withdrew the predictability that comes with inking a deal. In a single act, the governor has signaled to a world innovator that is interested in investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Maine, that they are not wanted here in Maine.
 
“Capital goes where it’s welcome and stays where it’s appreciated.”

 Everyone talks about attracting businesses to Maine. A billion dollar industry has come to us and we cannot let them get away. We cannot miss this opportunity.

The governor of the state is not only the state’s chief executive but he—or she—is our state’s marketer in chief. Our chief, our governor ranks third from the bottom in job creation. That’s another headline we don’t need.

As President of the Senate, I along with my colleagues in the Legislature have worked hard to change the tone in Augusta. We understand that the people of Maine care less about political rhetoric and more about results. There are a lot of positive things going on in our state. I want us to share and celebrate in those successes, not be shamed by the negative.

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Maine’s youth given an opportunity to participate in robotics competitions

July 3rd, 2013 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Education

Dean Kamen, the creator of the Seway stand-up scooter, unveiled the Robotics Institute of Maine (RIM) on June 27th, which will give more students an opportunity to join robotics teams through financial assistance. 

The unveiling took place in the Fairchild Semiconductor parking lot, a past sponsor of individual robotics teams, with engineers, students and robotics supporters in attendance.

“We want to reach out to the whole state to give everybody a chance to compete,” said Jamee Luce, the executive director of RIM. 

The Institute plans to double the amount of students participating in robotics teams to 1,000 by 2016, while expanding their reach to rural Maine, girls, and minorities, according to Luce. 

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Comprehensive energy bill will help grow clean energy economy in Maine

June 26th, 2013 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

In a 35-0 vote the Senate overrode the Governor’s veto of a bipartisan comprehensive energy bill which will significantly lower energy costs for Maine homes and businesses.

“This is a good day for Maine,” said Senate President Justin Alfond. “Once again, Republicans joined Democrats in sending a message to the Governor by overwhelmingly overriding the Governor’s veto. Lawmakers know that it is our job to address the most important issues facing our state, including lowering energy costs for Maine’s small businesses and families.”

The bipartisan energy measure increases energy efficiency by fully funding Efficiency Maine, implements reforms to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and provides rate-relief for Maine businesses.

The bill will lower global warming pollution limits from power plants across the Northeast by 45 percent through reforms to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and provide financial assistance to families to convert to cheaper, cleaner heating systems.  RGGI was the first cap-n-trade program in the U.S. and has brought in over $33 million to the state. Negotiated under the Baldacci administration it has helped to weatherize homes and businesses and transition businesses to bio mass generators. REGGI has helped Maine grow clean energy jobs.

“Today the Legislature chose to not let one man stand in the way of progress for Maine people,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall. “This bill was negotiated between Democrats, Republicans, industry, and environmentalists. Once again, the Governor, opposed it. I’m pleased to say the legislature stood strong and supported this bill to move Maine forward.”

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Maine Senate jeopardizes offshore wind Norwegian investment

June 26th, 2013 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

A artist rendering of an possible floating offshore wind turbine.

On June 26th, in a vote of 22-13 the Senate passed an amendment to a bill, LD 1472, to include a provision that undermines the Ocean Energy Act and jeopardizes a $200 million investment in Maine by StatOil, an international ocean energy innovator.

The amendment was offered by Republicans to appease Governor Paul LePage who insists on the provision before he considers the rest of an omnibus energy bill. The governor also tried to diminish the state requirement, part of the renewable power standard (RPS), for how much wind energy needs to be produced by 2020.

“It is disingenuous for the Governor to say that he is supporting ocean energy. He’s been crystal clear that is no friend of wind power,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. ”When people think of politics at its worst, this is what they think of.”

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Obama’s ConnectED Initiative will make sure schools have broadband internet- without congress

June 7th, 2013 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Education, News from Washington

President Obama’s new initiative called ConnectED will connect 99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within 5 years, calling on the FCC to modernize and leverage its existing E-Rate program to meet that goal. The program does not require Congressional action.

“We are living in a digital age, and to help our students get ahead, we must make sure they have access to cutting-edge technology,” said President Obama. “So, I’m issuing a new challenge for America – one that families, businesses, school districts and the federal government can rally around together – to connect virtually every student in America’s classrooms to high-speed broadband internet within five years, and equip them with the tools to make the most of it.”

The President also directed the federal government to make better use of existing funds to get Internet connectivity and educational technology into classrooms, and into the hands of trained teachers working with businesses, states, districts, schools and communities.

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