LePage wants end to wind targets

Maine Governor Paul LePage wants to scrap the state’s ambitious wind power development goals, arguing that they are not helping generate much economic development or lower energy costs.

Maine had 431MW of installed wind capacity on 1 January, the most among New England states, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Under laws signed by his predecessor John Baldacci in 2008 and 2010, Maine set the following wind-energy targets:

*At least 2GW of installed capacity by 2015;

*At least 3GW of installed capacity by 2020, of which there is potential to produce 300MW from offshore from facilities located in either state or federal waters;

*At least 8GW of installed capacity, of which 5GW should be from coastal waters or further offshore.

LePage is supporting a bill introduced in the state lower house by a Republican Party lawmaker would end those targets and replace them with goals to expand economic opportunities and reduce electricity prices.

The bill faces uncertain prospects in the Legislature which is controlled by the opposition Democratic Party.

Patrick Woodcock, director of the governor’s energy office, told The Associated Press that wind energy has a future in Maine and contends that the bill, if passed, would not impact that.

Renewable energy advocates argue the bill sends another negative signal to investors after LePage’s administration worked to torpedo Statoil’s Hywind project that would have been located off Maine’s coast.

They say the university of Maine-led Aqua Ventus I offshore pilot, if funded, would create at least 340 full- and part-time jobs during the planning and construction phases over three years, and generate a minimum $120m capital investment.

If the technology goes commercial, they contend it will generate thousands of jobs and provide Maine with a homegrown energy source to replace expense imported fossil fuels.