Boston Developer Eyes Maine Coast as Wind Power Site

Fri August 29, 2008 - Northeast Edition
CEG



BANGOR, Maine (AP) A Boston-based developer of wind turbines that can operate in deep waters has been meeting with state leaders about plans for a large wind power project at an undetermined site in the Gulf of Maine.

“What we’re trying to do is focus in and find an appropriate location in the state of Maine that will have minimal impact on the fisheries and the environment,’’ said Raymond Dackerman, general manager of Blue H USA.

The company said it’s aiming for a site far enough at sea that any large turbines would not be visible from land.

Maine has emerged as one of the premier areas on the East Coast for wind energy, but all projects approved or proposed thus far are based on land.

Experts estimate that more than 100,000 megawatts of potential wind energy could be tapped in the Gulf of Maine, which has strong and steady winds year round.

Blue H USA claims to have developed and patented a turbine that is shorter and lighter than most land-based industrial turbines yet produces more power.

The two-bladed turbines, which sit on a floating platform modeled after those used for oil and gas drilling rigs, can be located in 150- to 900-ft.-deep water, the company said. Because they can be deployed far from shore, officials say the turbines would not draw the kind of opposition from coastal landowners that plagued the Cape Wind Project near Cape Cod, Mass.

Blue H has deployed a demonstration turbine off Italy and hopes to begin construction on a full-scale, commercial project next year, Dackerman said. The company also is seeking a lease for a similar demonstration project off the Massachusetts coast that could grow to a 120-turbine facility producing 400 megawatts of electricity.

Preliminary plans for a Maine project call for 90 larger turbines capable of cranking out up to 450 megawatts.

“As we move forward in Massachusetts we are similarly moving forward in Maine,’’ said Martin Reilly, a Blue H spokesman.

Company officials have discussed their plans with Gov. John Baldacci, members of Maine’s congressional delegation and other business or government leaders. On Aug. 7, Dackerman and Reilly briefed former Gov. Angus King, a partner in a wind-energy development firm.

King’s company, Independence Wind, has focused on building land-based wind projects, but King believes that wind energy’s biggest potential is off the coast of Maine.

“There is just a gigantic amount of energy out there and why should we be importing from people who don’t like us when it is right there on our shores?’’ he said.