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May 19, 2022

King Pushes Administration to Accelerate UMaine Offshore Wind Project Proposal

King receives Interior Secretary Haaland’s commitment to advance review within Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today urged Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to expedite federal consideration of the University of Maine’s offshore wind research program to ensure timely research into both the economic opportunities of the technology and potential impacts on other key industries, including fisheries. In a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, King highlighted the enormous potential of the University’s floating offshore wind efforts, and secured a commitment from Secretary Haaland that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) would look into accelerating reviews of the project. This push continues a bipartisan effort from the Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire Senate delegations, who earlier this year sent a letter to BOEM urging quick consideration of the important program.

“Offshore wind is an enormously important potential energy source. Virtually all, if not all, of the offshore wind proposals that are out there have one thing in common: they’re not really offshore wind. They’re onshore wind in the water. In other words, they go to the ground. The towers go into the seabed,” said Senator King. “The University of Maine has been working for 14 years to develop a proposal for a floating, offshore wind capacity, which could be an enormous breakthrough because it opens up a much bigger area for potential offshore wind development.”

“They have a proposal in that they’ve been working with the Department of Energy on for many years… but Senator Collins and I wrote to you about this project and the response was ‘well we’re working on it but we have to issue a request for other proposals because under the statues we have to look for competition’,” continued Senator King. We hope that can be expedited. This is, I believe, one of the most important energy independence, clean energy projects in the country or in the world because offshore wind that is on a floating platform would be an enormous breakthrough. So I hope that you will go back and talk to the people in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management about expediting this process, following the statues to be sure, but not opening up to a lengthy, competitive project for commercial use, which isn’t what this project is.”

“I understand. Thank you, Senator. I will absolutely take that message back to the [Bureau of Ocean Energy Management],” committed Secretary Haaland.

Continuing his questioning on the University of Maine’s offshore wind project, Senator King stressed that the research is needed to assess the impacts of offshore wind on local fishing industries and ecosystems.

“Senator Collins and I are absolutely committed to this project because we want to do the research. Maine has the highest percentage of fisheries related income of any state in the country. One of the things we want to know is, what’s the impact on fisheries? Our fishing community is concerned about that,” said Senator King. “The only way we’re really going to know this is if we can do the research necessary. And, again, that’s one of the reasons we want to move forward with this.”

Senator King is a strong supporter of UMaine’s research efforts, including the offshore wind project. In a hearing of the ENR Committee last year, King touted the opportunities of offshore wind to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, and lauded the work being done on these technologies at the University of Maine.

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