By Ramona du Houx

October 15, 2009

Governor John E. Baldacci today joined U.S. Energy Secretary Chu and Maine’s Congressional Delegation in a conference call to announce that the University of Maine and Consortium partners have been awarded $8 million of Federal Recovery Act funds to expand efforts to develop offshore wind capacity. This grant represents the foundation of an effort that will begin with testing, research and optimization of model floating wind turbines and lead to the deployment of the first 25 MW floating “Stepping Stone” ocean wind farm in the world in 10 years.

Maine is one of three states receiving wind energy funds today, and the only one targeted toward offshore wind. Specifically, the recipient of the State’s award is the University of Maine DeepCwind Deepwater Offshore Wind Consortium. The other two recipients are the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Minnesota. The investment from the federal government will help create the first floating deepwater offshore wind program in the United States.

“I want to thank Secretary Chu and the Obama Administration for their tremendous commitment to research, development and implementation of renewable technology and especially offshore wind technology,” said Governor Baldacci. “I also want to thank the Maine Congressional delegation and acknowledge our bipartisan efforts to promote clean, home-grown energy development in Maine.”

The Governor said that the grant from the U.S. Department of Energy shows the recognition by the Obama Administration of Maine’s leadership in wind development. Maine already produces 95 percent of the on-shore wind power in New England. The Governor led a trade mission to Europe in September to seek out new partnerships for Maine businesses expanding into the renewable energy sector. Maine’s deep ocean waters relatively close to shore, combined with our extensive maritime industry infrastructure and proximity to large northeastern regional energy markets, makes the Gulf of Maine the ideal location to lead vital deepwater offshore wind development efforts for the nation.

Specifically, the grant to the University of Maine will help fund two years of operations of an Offshore Wind Test Site that will consist of designing, constructing, deployment and monitoring two-10kW and one-100 kW floating offshore wind turbine prototypes. This initial deployment will be extensively monitored and then will lead to enhancements and redeployment. This critical initial research represents the foundation of an effort that dramatically advances Maine’s plan to work collaboratively with private partners ultimately achieve 5 GW of wind power by 2030. Using federal figures of 15.6 jobs created for every $1 million in investments in renewable energy, Maine has the potential to create and maintain 15,600 jobs over the 20 years through the 5 GW plan.

The Governor said that his goals include building wind power turbines in Maine and expanding Maine’s green workforce. An education component is an important segment of the grant proposal funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The educational component that spans the spectrum of high-school, community college, university education and industry outreach is intended to help develop future jobs and prosperity.

The Governor praised the work of Dr. Habib Dagher, who heads the composites center at the University of Maine, as well as the many public and private partners involved in the offshore wind proposal.

“I applaud the federal government for its confidence in Maine, the University and the talented consortium of businesses, academic institutions, nonprofit organizations and agencies that will be partners in this project,” said the Governor.

“The DeepCwind Project will complement the Obama Administration’s goal of achieving 20 percent of our power a year from wind generation,” said the Governor. “We believe Maine will be a leading state in wind production, but more importantly, that we will be the leader for the nation in its quest to become energy independent.”