The Working Waterfront

Legislature, governor pass offshore wind bill

Proponents say ‘guardrails in place’ to protect Gulf of Maine

Posted 2023-09-22
Last Modified 2023-09-22

In what proponents describe as a way to jumpstart a new offshore wind industry for Maine, the legislature passed and Gov. Janet Mills signed into law LD 1895, “An Act Regarding the Procurement of Energy from Offshore Wind” on July 27.

The coalition of groups that support the bill say it will generate not only a historic investment in affordable and reliable clean energy to power Maine’s homes, businesses, and transportation, but also an investment in the working Mainers needed to make it a reality.

Bill sponsor Sen. Mark Lawrence said offshore wind energy must be part of the state’s future.

“To combat climate change and invest in Maine’s energy independence, our state has set ambitious goals for renewable energy. It’s clear that this effort will involve offshore wind energy projects. We need to have guardrails in place to make sure this is done right and truly benefits Mainers,” he said.

“This bill will mean jobs, lower and more stable energy prices while combating climate change at the same time,” Lawrence continued. “LD 1895 represents a detailed path to smart offshore wind development.”

The legislation combines two critical initiatives to advance a new clean energy industry for Maine by setting a procurement schedule and constructing a port. It will:

• Set a procurement schedule for a goal of 3 GW of installed offshore wind power in the Gulf of Maine by 2040, supplying affordable, reliable offshore wind to power homes, businesses, and transportation.
• Incentivize responsibly developed wind projects that protect wildlife and avoid Lobster Management Area 1, one of Maine’s key fishing grounds.
• Set strong and comprehensive labor and workforce development standards for good-paying jobs and ensure inclusive benefits for Maine’s most vulnerable communities.
• Support the creation of a world-class, Maine-built offshore wind port that will bring in billions of dollars in economic development.
• Help meet Maine’s bipartisan emissions reduction targets and put the state on a path to meeting Gov. Janet Mills’ proposed goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040.

“Maine is well positioned to be a leader in renewable energy and offshore wind,” said Sen. Chip Curry. “This bill will make sure that Maine’s workers, ratepayers, and economy get the best benefit possible.”

Three prominent environmental groups support the law.

Kelt Wilska, energy justice manager at Maine Conservation Voters, said the law “sets a national example for how to responsibly develop a new, affordable energy source, grow good-paying jobs for our workers, and do so without compromising Maine values.”

Jack Shapiro, climate and clean energy director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said the governor and legislature “are moving us decisively towards a clean energy future that will bring thousands of family-supporting jobs, protect the rich array of wildlife in the Gulf of Maine, avoid conflicts with important fishing grounds, and put us on a path to meet a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040.”

And Eliza Donoghue, Maine Audubon’s director of advocacy, said the law represents “a serious and measurable step toward accelerating our clean energy transition and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. This legislation is necessary to help ensure that appropriately sited and operated offshore wind development safely co-exists with Gulf of Maine wildlife and the marine habitats they rely on.”