Maine closer to offshore wind pilot

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Offshore wind is closer to reality on the Maine coast, thanks to a 2-1 vote on Thursday by state energy regulators.

A Statoil wind turbine off the U.K. coast. Credit: Alan O Neill/Statoil

The pilot, first proposed last year, allows Norwegian manufacturer Statoil to construct four floating wind turbines 12 miles off the coast of Boothbay Harbor, a popular tourist destination. The approval does not guarantee construction of the $120 million project, which is scheduled to begin in 2016 and will depend on securing expected federal funding and renewable energy tax credit extensions.

Construction will be challenging, as the turbines must be tethered in rough ocean waters as much as 450 feet deep.

Residential customers are expected to see about a $0.75 monthly bill increase, according to the Portland Press Herald. That reflects reduction from the original rate proposed by Statoil, which regulators rejected in October 2012.  But regulators agreed that the new short-term rate increase was fair and worth it for the chance that Maine could become a hotspot for offshore wind generation.

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