Norwegian company hosting info sessions about wind project off Maine coast

Posted June 22, 2012, at 4:20 p.m.
Last modified June 22, 2012, at 4:48 p.m.

BOOTHBAY, Maine — Statoil North America, which is aiming to test cutting-edge floating wind turbines off the coast of Maine, has scheduled three public information sessions next week, the first of which is Monday in Boothbay.

Statoil is an international wind company from Norway that has submitted an application to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and a proposal to the Maine Public Utilities Commission to build four floating wind turbines in federal waters off the coast of Maine in 2016. The company also is seeking permission to connect the New England Power Grid through ISO New England, according to Kari Hege Mork, a spokeswoman for Statoil.

“This will be an informal setting,” said Mork. “We hope to have an open dialogue with the public.”

The lease area for the “Hywind Maine” project, which lies about 12 nautical miles from the coast of Boothbay, is about 22 square miles, but the actual turbines would use an area of less than 4 square miles. The floating wind turbines would be installed in around 500 feet of water and tethered to the ocean floor.

Statoil, which seeks to build four 3-megawatt turbines, is working on a similar deep-sea pilot program off the coast of Scotland and already has a test turbine installed in Norway.

“We have a full-scale floating wind turbine that has been operating for two years off the coast of Norway,” said Mork. “The next step would be to have a pilot project for four floating turbines and Maine is one opportunity which offers stable wind conditions, good water depth for floating constructions and it is also close to the demand center for power.”

Mork said Statoil is proceeding on two fronts but is unsure what the future holds.

“We are looking for opportunities to build a pilot park in Scotland and in Maine,” she said. “We might do both of them, one of them or maybe none of them. That final decision has not been made.”

Monday’s public information session is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. at Boothbay Firehouse at 911 Wiscasset Road in Boothbay. There are similar sessions scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Rockland Public Library at 80 Union St., and at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute at 350 Commercial St. in Portland.

The Statoil sessions will be in open house format, and designed for interested parties to ask questions and learn about the status of the regulatory process.

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