Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree announced today that the University of Maine has been selected for a $3 million research and development partnership with the Department of Energy to support continued engineering and design of the New England Aqua Ventus I. The project was also selected as an alternate for a second round of demonstration grant funding. Aqua Ventus was one of several projects nationwide seeking the full funding.
"While I am disappointed UMaine was not selected for the full grant, the R&D partnership will continue to move this project and Maine's ongoing efforts to become a leader in renewable energy forward," said Michaud. "The Aqua Ventus project is a groundbreaking effort that could revolutionize how Maine -- and all of New England -- harnesses and consumes energy. The project stands to create new jobs and serve as a trailblazer for how our nation can get smarter about energy. I will continue to do everything I can to make Aqua Ventus a reality."
"Maine has a significant offshore wind resource and the supply chain for wind power is already well established in the state. I'm convinced it's just a matter of time before offshore wind is a reality in Maine and I'm hopeful the federal government continues to fund the research and development being done in Maine," Pingree said. "Wind and tidal power is and will continue to be an important part of our economy and has already created close to 2,000 high quality jobs. I firmly believe clean energy will keep creating good-paying jobs and develop new sources of clean energy right here at home."
UMaine's project proposal aimed to deploy two floating offshore wind turbines to create clean and affordable energy by capturing wind off the coast of Maine. Michaud previously led efforts in 2012 to secure an initial grant of $4 million to fund the earliest stages of the project's development. Last month, Reps. Michaud and Pingree wrote to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to make the case for Aqua Ventus receiving the additional funding, and Michaud personally spoke with the Secretary on the issue.
The initial round of grant funding allowed UMaine to deploy the nation's first grid-connected offshore wind turbine, and that prototype has already withstood severe weather events. The new R&D partnership with DOE will allow UMaine to further advance their design and manufacturing process, bringing us one major step closer to independent, American-produced energy. If one of the second round grant awardees cannot fulfill its project requirements over the next year, UMaine will be able to compete for their funding.