Maine Wind & Ocean News Wrap up for March-April 2014

Editor’s Note:
You will notice a lot of events pointing to a robust Northeast Wind Industry in this month’s newsletter. Increased market interest, transmission development, hope for the PTC and ITC, advanced technologies, and attempts to weaken wind siting laws defeated. The events of March have truly set us up for an exciting time of growth in the Northeast for coming years.
 
Northeast Wind Summit comes to Maine,
American Wind Power Association’s Northeast Regional Summit at the Marriott at Sable Oaks. It’s the second time in three years the trade group has come here, underscoring the value that participants say they get from the two-day sessions.
 
“Maine has some great wind resources,” said Lindsay North, of the Washington, D.C.-based trade group. “Lately, there’s been a lot of business happening. That’s why we’ve come back.”
 
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Market Research Report expects growth in Northeast Wind
 
The Northeast is expected to benefit from the installation of the nation's first offshore wind turbines. In addition, electricity costs in the Northeast are among the highest in the country, spurring the installation of renewable energy sources such as wind.
 
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Maine Ocean & Wind Industry Initiative Partner in Winning Proposal to the DOE
Clean Energy Group and Sustainable Energy Advantage to operate U.S. Department of Energy’s Northeast Wind Resource Center to provide information for fact-based decision-making and increase literacy for offshore and land-based wind. The Maine Ocean & Wind Industry Initiative will serve as a key liaison to the wind industry.
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DOE’s announcement regarding the centers can be found at http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/filter_detail.asp?itemid=4144
 
 
Companies want to build multimillion-dollar power lines through Maine
 
Anbaric Transmission LLC said Monday it will submit plans to build its so-called Green Line project from the Canadian border overland to an undisclosed point on the Maine coast, where it would connect with Greater Boston by undersea cable. The high-voltage, direct-current line also would link major wind farms in Aroostook County that are under construction or being proposed.
 
Also jockeying for position is the Northeast Energy Link, a $2 billion project that aims to carry vast amounts of renewable power from northern and eastern Maine and Atlantic Canada to Massachusetts through underground cables along interstate highways.
 
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Senate Committee Passes Bill with Two-Year PTC Extension
 
Hope for a revival of the wind production tax credit (PTC) has been buoyed, as a two-year extension of the incentive has made its way into a newly passed Senate Finance Committee tax extenders bill. An earlier version of the bill, released by Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on Tuesday, did not include the PTC.
 
Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., had pushed for an amendment to add the PTC extension prior to a committee markup hearing on April 3. The bill also includes a two-year extension of the investment tax credit (ITC). Both incentives expired on Dec. 31, 2013, and the legislation would extend them through Dec. 31, 2015.
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Maine Legislature Rejects Governor's Attempt to Make Negative Changes to Wind Energy Law
 
Last week, both the Maine House and Senate voted down a governor-backed bill that would have required wind developers in the state to prove a proposed project's economic benefits, such as job creation and lower electricity prices, before receiving regulatory approval.
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In other legislative news, A Bipartisan Maine Senate voted down both LD 616 and 1323 by a vote of 21-14. Both bills could have added complexity to the wind siting process.
 
LD 616 An Act To Amend the Expedited Permitting Area for Wind Energy Development under the Jurisdiction of the Maine Land Use Planning Commission (defeated)
This bill amends unallocated language in Public Law 2007, chapter 661, "An Act To Implement Recommendations of the Governor's Task Force on Wind Power Development," to remove Carrying Place Township, Concord Township, Highland Plantation, Lexington Township and Pleasant Ridge Plantation from the expedited permitting area for the purposes of that Act and directs the Maine Land Use Planning Commission to amend its rules accordingly.
 
LD 1323 An Act Regarding Wind Power Siting in the Unorganized Territory (defeated)
This bill provides that before the Department of Environmental Protection may approve a proposal for a grid-scale wind energy development in the unorganized or deorganized area of the State, the Maine Land Use Planning Commission must certify that the area where the development will be located has been zoned for planned development and removes a legislative finding regarding wind energy development in the unorganized and deorganized areas of the State.
 
 
 
Maine’s Full Delegation among 144 Congress Members Call For Wind PTC, ITC Extensions
 
Members from the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have signed bipartisan letters urging their colleagues to act quickly and extend the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) and the investment tax credit (ITC).
 
Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, headed the effort. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the letters call on Congress to encourage more private investment by stabilizing the U.S. industry and averting another falloff like 2013’s 92% drop in domestic wind power installations.
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Letter to the Senate:
 
Wind Industry’s New Technologies Are Helping It Compete on Price
With new technology allowing developers to build taller machines spinning longer blades, the industry has been able to produce more power at lower cost by capturing the faster winds that blow at higher elevations. This has opened up new territories where the price of power from turbines built 300 feet to 400 feet above the ground can now compete with conventional sources like coal. Prices have fallen so low — in some cases to about 4 cents per kilowatt-hour — that utilities have been increasing the amount of wind energy they want to buy through long-term contracts, with regulators saying it is their cheapest option
 
And efforts to capture the wind could go even higher. In perhaps the most extreme example, a start-up called Altaeros Energies is preparing to introduce its first commercial pilot in Alaska of an airborne wind turbine it has been testing in Maine.
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