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UMaine-led offshore wind project loses $47M grant

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm •  Published: May 7, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A University of Maine-led effort to build an offshore wind pilot project was dealt a significant blow Wednesday when it failed to a win a competition for a $47 million federal grant, expected to be a key source of funding.

The U.S. Department of Energy's decision to pass over the Maine Aqua Ventus project for the grant means an uncertain future for the proposal, which would put a two turbine, 12-megawatt project off the coast of Monhegan Island, and the goal of making Maine a hub for offshore wind development.

While Maine it failed to win the grant, it will receive $3 million from the federal government to complete the design and engineering of the project. Officials said they remain confident they will secure funding for the demonstration of floating turbine technology called VolturnUS.

"We're certainly going to have the opportunity to continue to try to demonstrate this technology at full scale and whether it's directly with DOE as a partner or through some other vehicle that's something we'll have to be working on over the next years," said Jake Ward, vice president for innovation and development for UMaine.

In January, Maine Aqua Ventus received initial approval for a state contract for the roughly $120 million project that's slated to be placed 15 miles off the coast near Monhegan Island.

At 23 cents per kilowatt hour, it's expected to cost ratepayers roughly $9 more a year on their utility bills generate enough power for up to 7,000 homes.

If successful, the goal is to build a larger wind farm generating up to 500 megawatts in the Gulf of Maine.

Officials had hoped approval from the state would help them win the federal grant. Jeff Thaler, legal counsel for the project, said they were waiting for the decision from the federal government before moving forward with negotiations for the 20-year contract with the state.

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