Public Comment on Maine’s Offshore Wind Development Program


To the Maine Governor’s Energy Office:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the process through which Maine will deploy future offshore wind projects under P.L. 2023, ch. 481. This is Maine Policy Institute’s response to your request for information on a variety of questions of interest related to the evaluation and decision-making regarding the deployment of offshore wind projects on Maine’s coast. While the information provided below may not answer all of your questions, we hope it will be helpful in making the major decisions ahead of the Governor’s Energy Office.

First, we address the goals of offshore wind development to provide a basis for future discussion of efficiency in reaching those goals. In Maine’s offshore wind roadmap, five goals are described: supporting economic growth and resiliency, harnessing renewable energy, advancing Maine-based innovation, supporting Maine’s seafood industry, and protecting the Gulf of Maine’s ecosystem. It is our belief that while certain wind energy projects may properly achieve all five of these goals, poorly designed and overbearing wind projects may fail to accomplish even a single one of them, and we hope that the evidence we present convinces you of that as well.

As for goal one, the amount of government intervention Maine’s energy industries face directly harms our state’s economic growth and resiliency. A massively subsidized offshore wind project is likely to harm our state’s energy competition even further. Our state would become reliant on an energy source that is far more prone to weather-based damage than any other, as well as heavily relying on unpredictable sea wind patterns. What’s more troubling is that we would be investing in this energy source when most climate experts say that extreme weather is likely to become more common in Maine as time progresses.

Other forms of clean energy appear to be more effective for harnessing renewable energy. Nuclear energy is far safer and more reliable than wind, and with multiple, widespread energy grid failures this year alone due in part to poor weather conditions, prioritizing more reliable sources of energy seems to be the appropriate path. Additionally, as we are the most wooded state in the nation, prioritizing wood pulp-based biofuels would be a more appropriate use of our resources than launching massive fiberglass structures into Maine’s stormy sea.

Maine-based innovation would be better advanced in a free energy market where we become less dependent on imported energy and unreliable and hyper-subsidized energy sources. Furthermore, our seafood industry will be put at risk not just from the likely fiberglass pollution in our waters, but also from the constant vibrations from floating turbines.

Lastly, those same two factors are likely to harm our gulf’s ecosystems. Already, the state is planning to build a port on Sears Island, an island with a long history of both federal and state environmental protections. Another long history Maine has is tourism, which is a major industry for our state and an industry that offshore wind has been demonstrated to harm. Destroying around 75 acres of woodland and dune ecosystems and filling in wetlands will harm our environment, not help it, and will potentially increase atmospheric CO2 levels by destroying 75 acres worth of trees with carbon recapture capabilities.

While a fair, free market, and reasonable offshore wind program could successfully achieve every goal listed above, our current path does not. Offshore wind in small amounts may marginally improve our energy production as a state, but that is for the market to decide, not the government. The fact that a multitude of environmentalist groups have come out in opposition to this expansion is a major sign that our offshore wind program needs to be reconsidered and potentially scrapped in its entirety.

As stated earlier, offshore wind has many drawbacks that should be considered in more detail before subsidizing its expansion. Maine’s coast is crucial to multiple industries and ecosystems, and offshore wind puts it at risk of noise and vibration pollution, as well as copious amounts of fiberglass entering our waters. Additionally, if increasing offshore wind means the reduction of certain, more reliable forms of energy production, then the people of our state will suffer more frequent brownouts and blackouts as a result of offshore wind expansion. Lastly, by further subsidizing and supporting specific types of green energy, the market incentives for or against certain means of energy production will become more and more warped from what is truly the optimal means of energy production.

Thank you for requesting information and feedback on our state’s ongoing Offshore Wind Development Program. I hope the above information proves useful in your decision-making on how and if to expand Maine’s green energy programs.