U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the Democratic nominee for governor, today discussed his plans to return Maine to the forefront of offshore energy development.
"During the last three and a half years, Maine has gone from a national leader in the development of offshore energy to lagging behind other states," Michaud said. "Our state has tremendous potential to be the leader in offshore wind, tidal and wave energy, but under Gov. LePage our state has gone backwards and watched as opportunities have slipped away. Offshore energy presents an important opportunity for our economy and for our environment."
Earlier this week, international energy company Statoil announced a $2.5 billion investment in offshore wind power in the waters around the United Kingdom. The company was planning a major research and development project in Maine until Gov. LePage intervened, forcing the company to withdraw plans to invest in Maine.
The University of Maine's Aqua Ventus partnership was denied a major federal grant to support it's ongoing research into offshore wind.
And a new report, Catching the Wind, documents how Maine is falling behind other states in the development of clean, renewable ocean power.
"It's time that we put partisanship and ideology aside, refocus on efforts on Maine's clean energy future and move beyond the mistakes of the last three and a half years," Michaud said. "We need to create a welcoming, predictable regulatory framework that attracts investment and shows the state's commitment to renewable energy. We simply cannot ignore this incredible opportunity and the jobs that will follow."
As part of his Maine Made business and investment plan, Michaud has proposed the creation of the Ocean Energy Center of Excellence. The center will bring together industry leaders, academics, environmentalists, fisherman, and residents of coastal communities to map out a strategy to repair the damage done under Gov. LePage's leadership.
"We have to be willing to bring diverse points of view together and to create an environment that puts Maine back in control of its energy future," Michaud said. "We can't just sit back and hope things work out. We have to make it happen."
The goals of the Ocean Energy Center of Excellence:
*Restore Maine's leadership position in the research and development of offshore energy development;
*Remove politics from the equation to create a predictable and consistently enforced regulatory environment that encourages investment while protecting our fisheries and wildlife, working waterfronts, coastlines and coastal communities;
*Ensure clean, renewable energy can compete on a level playing field with fossil fuels;
*Encourage long-term contracts for energy production that incentivize new developments while protecting ratepayers for unanticipated rate increases.
Ocean Renewable Power is an example of the exceptional work that can occur in renewable energy when government empowers innovators and there is cooperation at the state and federal levels. Michaud worked with U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree to restore funding to the Department of Energy that could benefit the project.