Wind power in Maine
There are a number of wind power projects in the state of Maine, totaling more than 900 megawatts (MW) in capacity and responsible for 13.85% of in-state electricity production in 2017. In 2019, Maine had more wind capacity than the other five New England states combined, at 923 MW.
|Megawatts of Wind Capacity |
In 2008, then-Governor John Baldacci set a goal for the state of 2,000 megawatts of wind power installed by 2015 and 3,000 MW by 2020. Since 2007 wind power generation has increased more than 16 times from 99 GWh generated for 2007 to 1623 GWh for 2016.
In January 2018, Gov. Paul LePage created a moratorium on all new wind power construction stating, “While out-of-state interests are eager to exploit our western mountains in order to serve their political agendas, we must act judiciously to protect our natural beauty." Gov. Janet Mills ended the moratorium in February 2019 after she was elected governor.
Operating wind farms
In 2006, First Wind Holdings, LLC developed the first wind farm in Maine on Mars Hill ( ). First Wind installed 28 GE 1.5 MW Wind Turbines at a cost of $85 million along the top and northern section of the mountain. The blades attached to the hub of the turbine are about 115 ft (35 m) long. This is small compared to the wind turbines available in 2021.
The Stetson I wind farm consists of 38 GE 1.5 MW wind turbines, with a total capacity of 57 megawatts, strung along the north-south ridge of Stetson Mountain ( ). It generates approximately 167 million kilowatt-hours (kW·h) of electricity per year and began commercial operations in January 2009. First Wind received $40.44 million from the federal government to complete the Stetson I project which was one of twelve grants made to wind projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus program.
The Fox Islands Wind Power Project (North Haven and Vinalhaven Island. The $14.5 million project is expected to produce 11,600 megawatt-hours of electricity per year. Approved by a vote of 383–5 on July 29, 2008 by members of the Fox Islands Electric Cooperative, construction began on June 29, 2009, and the wind farm went online on November 17. The project has significantly reduced rates on the island residents, who previously imported all their power from the mainland via a submarine power cable. However, the noise generated by the turbines has caused considerable controversy on the island.) is a 4.5 MW wind project consisting of three GE 1.5 MW wind turbines, providing power for
University of Maine
In 2009, the University of Maine at Presque Isle installed a single 600 KW wind turbine on campus ( ) to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions. This turbine produces approximately 680,000 KWh per year and saves the university approximately $100,000 in energy costs each year. The turbine was damaged in a fire in April 2018.
The Kibby Mountain wind farm project—at a capacity of 132 MW—comprises forty-four 3 MW wind turbines strung along the ridges of Kibby Mtn. ( ) and nearby Kibby Range ( ). is expected to generate about 357 million kilowatt-hours (41 MW·yr) of electricity annually. Half the turbines were put online in October 2009, and TransCanada completed the project in 2010. The capital cost of the project is approximately US $320 million. Work on clearing the site began by September 2008. Kibby was purchased by LS Power through its affiliate Helix Generation in 2017.
Two Northern Power Systems wind turbines were installed at the Jackman Land Port of Entry by the GSA to provide power for the U.S. border station ( ). The two wind turbines produce 200 kW and approximately 400,000 kWh per year. This provides approximately 50% of power required to operate the U.S. border station and saves the station from burning approximately 38,000 US gallons (140 m3) of fuel each year. Construction began in April 2010 and the project went online in March 2011.
The Spruce Mountain wind farm consists of 10 Gamesa G90 2-MW wind turbines. The project is located in Woodstock Maine.()
In addition to the Stetson and Mars Hill projects, First Wind completed a 60 MW wind farm, with forty 1.5-MW turbines, on Rollins Mountain ( ) and other hills in the Penobscot County towns of Lincoln, Burlington, Lee, and Winn. The estimated cost is US$130 million. First Wind was bought by SunEdison and TerraForm Power in November 2014.
Record Hill Wind is a 50.6 MW wind project in Roxbury, consisting of 22 turbines arrayed along a four mile long north-south ridgeline connecting Record Hill, Flathead Mountain ( ), and Partridge Peak. The electrical output of the project is estimated to be approximately 160 million kW·h (18 MW·yr) per year.
The Saddleback Ridge wind project is a 34.2 megawatt, 12-turbine wind project located in Carthage, Maine.() It uses GE's 2.85 MW wind turbines and was developed by Patriot Renewables.
The Hancock Wind project is a project developed by Novatus Energy which consists of 17 Vestas V117 3.0 MW turbines. The project is located in Franklin Maine ( ). Hancock Wind currently has the tallest onshore wind turbines in the United States.
Bingham Wind Farm
The Bingham Wind Farm was developed by Novatus Energy and is located near Kingsbury Plantation, Maine () and consists of 56 Vestas V112 3.3 MW turbines.
Pisgah Mountain wind farm is owned by Pisgah Mountain LLC and operates five Vestas V90-1.8 MW wind turbines in Clifton Maine (). Seven local owners own 51% of Pisgah Mountain LLC and the remaining 49% is owned by SWEB Development USA a subsidiary of WEB Windenergie.
Canton Mountain Wind Project
The Canton Mountain Wind Project consists of eight GE 2.85 megawatt wind turbines with 103 meter rotors on 85 meter towers. It was developed by Patriot Renewables, it is located in Canton Maine (), and went online in November, 2017.
Offshore wind energy
Offshore wind energy represents Maine's largest untapped natural energy resource, rated at 156 GW. The University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center has led efforts to develop this resource with its patented floating wind turbine technology, VolturnUS.
In 2008, as a result of the Maine Ocean Energy Task Force, Maine established a renewable ocean energy goal, including the installation of 5 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030.
North America’s first offshore wind turbine was deployed in 2013. The VolturnUS is a floating concrete hull design that can support a wind turbine in waters 45 meters deep or more. In 2013 a 1:8th scale VolturnUS hull with a 65 feet (20 m) tall turbine was towed into Penobscot Bay near Castine, Maine where it was connected to the grid and tested for 18 months. Following the successful deployment of the VolturnUS Maine Aqua Ventus 1, GP, LLC, is leading a demonstration project off Monhegan Island, ME called New England Aqua Ventus I using the same floating hull and turbine technology.
Led by the University of Maine, the DeepCwind Consortium's  mission is to establish the State of Maine as a national leader in deepwater offshore wind technology through a research initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and others. The University of Maine-led consortium includes universities, nonprofits, and utilities; a wide range of industry leaders in offshore design, offshore construction, and marine structures manufacturing; firms with expertise in wind project siting, environmental analysis, environmental law, composites materials to assist in corrosion-resistant material design and selection, and energy investment; and industry organizations to assist with education and tech transfer activities.
Ocean Energy Institute
The Ocean Energy Institute, founded by Matthew Simmons, advocated developing wind power in the Gulf of Maine. Simmons and his partner, physicist George Hart, proposed an enormous, 5-gigawatt wind farm, with five 64 nmi² (220 km²) sections, each containing 200 5-MW turbines. That would generate sufficient power in winter to replace the state's consumption of home heating oil. According to Simmons, a proponent of peak oil, "If we don't do this, we're going to have to evacuate most of Maine."
As proposed, the turbines would be built on floating platforms, anchored in waters 100–200 meters (330–660 ft) deep — something that has never been done in the United States. It will take several years to test the feasibility of such buoyed turbines. (The Hywind wind turbine became the world's first operating large-capacity (2.3 MW) floating wind turbine in the summer of 2009, operating in the North Sea off Norway.) Hart said, "three qualities — survivability, reliability, and performance — are what investment bankers need to see before they're going to put up the large amount of capital needed".
The Ocean Energy Institute ceased operations in 2011 after Simmons died in late 2010. The University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center received a $250,000 donation in Simmons memory to advance research in wind power.
Proposed wind projects
New England Aqua Ventus I
New England Aqua Ventus I is an up to 12 MW floating offshore wind pilot project that will be anchored off Monhegan Island at the UMaine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site in Lincoln County. It will use a single 9.5 MW turbine mounted on the VolturnUS floating concrete hull. It is intended to demonstrate the potential for floating wind power on the New England coast. Project participants include the Cianbro Corporation and the University of Maine. In June 2019, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed into law LD 994, a resolve sponsored by state Sen. David Woodsome, directing the Maine Public Utilities Commission to approve a 20-year, long-term power purchase contract. That contract was unanimously approved by the Maine PUC on November 5, 2019, and signed by Central Maine Power (CMP) on December 20, 2019. New England Aqua Ventus I is anticipated to be the first commercial-scale floating wind project in the United States.
|Number of Turbines||Location
|Beaver Ridge||4.5||3||Waldo||Patriot Renewables||2008|
|Fox Islands||4.5||3||Knox||Fox Islands Electric Cooperative||2009|
|University of Maine||0.6||1||Aroostook||University of Maine||2009|
|Kibby Mountain||132||44||Franklin||LS Power||2010|
|Spruce Mountain||20||10||Oxford||Patriot Renewables||2011|
|Record Hill||50.6||22||Oxford||Independence Wind||2012|
|Bull Hill||34.2||19||Hancock||SunEdison / Blue Sky East||2012|
|Saddleback Ridge||34.2||12||Franklin||Patriot Renewables LLC||2015|
|Passadumkeag Windpark||42.9||13||Penobscot||Quantum Utility Generation||2016|
|Hancock Wind||51||17||Hancock County||Novatus Energy||2016|
|Bingham Wind Farm||184.8||56||Somerset & Piscataquis||Novatus Energy||2016|
|Pisgah Mountain||9||5||Penobscot||Pisgah Mountain LLC||2016|
|Canton Mountain||22.8||8||Oxford||Patriot Renewables LLC||2017|
Redington and Black Nubble
In 2005, Maine Mountain Power (MMP) filed an application with the Maine Land Use Regulation Committee (LURC) for a permit to develop a 30-turbine wind farm on Mount Redington ( ) and neighboring Black Nubble ( ). After years of contentious debate, the proposal was voted down by the LURC in 2007. The summit of Redington was seen as too ecologically sensitive — a sub-alpine fir habitat providing a home for two rare species, the bog lemming and Bicknell's thrush. Also, the development would have been visible for miles along the Appalachian Trail (AT). A revised proposal, for 18 turbines only on Black Nubble, was put forward by MMP, supported by many environmental groups, but still opposed by Maine Audubon. The project was rejected by the LURC in 2008.
The Longfellow project would have 16 turbines that could produce 40 MW of electricity, enough to power about 17,000 homes in the Northeast. The power would be sold to the New England power grid. The wind turbines would have been built on the west side of the mountain, away from the Black Mountain ski area. The developer placed the project on hold due to the strength of wind gusts in the area.
In April 2012, Statoil, a Norwegian multinational oil and gas company, received state regulatory approval to build a large four-unit demonstration floating wind farm off the coast of Maine called Hywind 2. Statoil proposed building a 4-tower, 12–15 MW wind farm developed by Statoil North America for placement 20 kilometres (12 mi) off the east coast of Maine in 140–158 metres (459–518 ft)-deep water of the Atlantic Ocean. Like the first Hywind installation off Norway, the proposed turbine foundation was spar buoy. The State of Maine Public Utility Commission voted to approve the construction and fund the US$120 million project by adding approximately 75 cents/month to the average retail electricity consumer. Power would have been flowing into the grid no earlier than 2016.
Statoil placed Hywind 2 on hold in July 2013 as a result of new legislation (LD 1472) by the State of Maine. The legislation required the Maine Public Utilities Commission to undertake a second round of bidding with a different set of ground rules; that led Statoil to suspend the project due to increased uncertainty and risk. Statoil ultimately abandoned the Hywind 2 project in Maine and developed Hywind Scotland instead.
A statewide poll in Spring 2007 by the Pan Atlantic SMS Group showed that 85% of Maine people supported wind power development.
A 2009 poll conducted by Portland-based Critical Insights shows that 90% of Maine people support the development of wind power as a source of electricity. Nearly nine in ten Mainers agree that "wind power can improve energy security and reduce Maine’s dependence on fossil fuels, and eight in ten agree that wind power will produce jobs and other forms of economic benefits".
In a 2010 statewide telephone poll of 500 registered voters, 88 percent supported wind power in Maine. Calls to residents in seven rural counties, from Aroostook to Oxford, where most wind power projects are built or planned, showed 83 percent support. Survey results show that Maine residents strongly support wind power development, chiefly because it cuts dependence on fossil fuels and creates jobs. The survey was done by Portland-based Pan Atlantic SMS Group for the Maine Renewable Energy Association.
Some community opposition has arisen, in the form of litigation against mountain wind farms and an ocean wind turbine proposal, as civic activism, and as development of municipal ordinances.
|Maine Wind Generation (GWh, Million kWh)|
- Solar power in Maine
- Wind power in the United States
- Renewable energy in the United States
- Ocean Renewable Power Company
- UMaine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site
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Statoil has secured the support of government officials in Maine to develop a demonstration wind park in the US with four full-scale offshore wind turbines.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wind power in Maine.|
- Maine Wind Energy Advisory Commission
- Maine Wind Energy Development Assessment – 2012
- U.S. Energy Information Administration Data
- U.S. Energy Information Administration Data Browser
- Patriot Renewables
- Sun Edison
- Fox Islands Electric Cooperative
- Record Hill Wind
- Quantum Utility Generation
- Novatus Energy
- TerraForm Power
- University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center – VolturnUS
- University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center – Offshore Wind
- Maine Aqua Ventus
- GE Wind Turbines