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Climate, labor groups rally behind new port as next step to bring offshore wind to Maine


Climate, labor groups rally behind new port as next step to bring offshore wind to Maine

Nov 15, 2023 | 1:34 pm ET
By AnnMarie Hilton
Climate, labor groups rally behind new port as next step to bring offshore wind to Maine
Wind turbines generate electricity at the Block Island Wind Farm on July 07, 2022 near Block Island, Rhode Island. The first commercial offshore wind farm in the United States, the structures are located 3.8 miles from Block Island, Rhode Island in the Atlantic Ocean. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Proponents for offshore wind in Maine are rallying behind efforts to build a new port to help bring the clean energy source online as soon as possible. 

A coalition of organized labor and environmental groups released a statement Wednesday highlighting its support for the “responsible development” of a port that would help with the construction and deployment of offshore wind structures. There are limited viable options, but the Maine Department of Transportation is expected to make a recommendation on the most effective location soon, according to a news release from the Natural Resources Council of Maine. 

The proponents highlighted benefits such as job-creation and the use of innovation developed by Maine people, but they also stressed the urgency of moving forward with the project for environmental reasons. 

Failing to build an offshore wind port will delay our ability to meet Maine’s climate and clean energy goals by a decade or more,” the statement said. “To avert the worst impacts of climate change we need to bring large amounts of responsibly developed offshore wind online as soon as possible, and to do that we need a Maine offshore wind port.” 

As industry struggles, federal, state offshore wind goals could get tougher to meet

The statement comes as offshore wind projects throughout the U.S. are battling rising project costs, raising questions about whether the Biden administration will be able to hit its target for increasing the clean energy source.

An Offshore Wind Ports Advisory Group has been meeting for more than a year to explore prospective sites, which require deep water, enough space to lay down construction materials and easy access to the Gulf of Maine. 

Two potential locations in Penobscot Bay — Sears Island and Mack Point — garnered conflicting reactions from the public. Since Sears Island is undeveloped, proponents see it as a blank canvas ready to be transformed into an offshore wind port. But opponents don’t see the logic in clearing more natural land over the redevelopment of Mack Point. 

Minutes from the group’s last meeting in June say more than 20 other sites have also been considered.

According to a draft timeline on the advisory group’s website, a final decision is expected in 2025 after opportunities for more public input.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop large amounts of home-grown clean energy in the Gulf of Maine using innovative technology that will be designed and built by Maine people,” the statement said.

Earlier this year, the Maine legislature passed a law approving the development of 3000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2040. And last month, a proposed map for offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine included a victory for fishing groups, labor unions and environmental organizations by protecting a vital fishing area amid that planning.

The statement of support for a new port was backed by: Maine Audubon, Maine Labor Climate Council, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine Conservation Voters, Maine Climate Action Now, Conservation Law Foundation, Maine Youth for Climate Justice, Iron Workers Local 7, Laborers’ International Union Local 327, North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters/Local 349 & 352, Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council and Union of Concerned Scientists.