On a global and national level, offshore wind has been a prominent subject in recent current events and has become one of the fastest-growing economic sectors, but here in Maine, we’ve been working on offshore wind for more than fifteen years. For us, it’s much more than clean energy and economic opportunity. It’s innovation, science and research, leadership, problem-solving, possibilities, pride in Maine ingenuity, and belief that others can learn from the standards we set. The Maine Research Array got a historic boost from bipartisan legislation signed in 2021, but the seed was planted in 2008 and the road since has been careful, collaborative, and focused on a bright sustainable future for Maine.
Governor Baldacci launched the Ocean Energy Task Force to review opportunities for offshore wind in Maine. Members included 17 experts with experience in marine resources management and conservation.
In response to the Ocean Energy Task Force, the legislature enacted the Ocean Energy Act with unanimous support in the House and Senate, which set a goal of 5,000 MW by 2030 and promoted research for commercialization of ocean energy resources.
With consistent endorsement from the Maine Legislature and with strong support of Senator Susan Collins and the entire Maine Congressional Delegation, the U.S. Department of Energy increased funding for development of UMaine technology and ultimately a demonstration project.
University of Maine made history when a 1/8th scale version of its patented VolturnUS offshore wind technology became the first floating turbine in the U.S. to deliver electricity into the grid. It operated successfully for 14 months during Maine’s harsh winter storms, demonstrating the validity of the design.
In October, the U.S. Economic Development Agency under President Trump gave the State of Maine a multi-million dollar grant for the Maine Offshore Wind Initiative to support the long-term planning roadmap for offshore wind with fishery, business, environmental, and science representatives.
LD 336 passed with bipartisan support from the Maine Legislature and was signed into law, declaring the Maine Research Array in the state’s public interest.
The State of Maine's application for a research lease takes a major step forward when the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management finds that there is no competitive interest for the site other than Maine's and initiates an environmental review, the last step prior to issuing a lease for the Maine Research Array.
The Maine Offshore Wind Research Consortium commences meetings to plan research projects at the Maine Research Array to better understand the local and regional impacts of floating offshore wind power projects in the Gulf of Maine