Hywind Maine

Boothbay man serves as Hywind Maine fisheries liaison

Posted:  Monday, April 8, 2013 - 10:00am

With a $4 million Department of Energy grant and the approval of the Maine Public Utilities Commission in hand, Statoil is continuing with plans to build a floating pilot wind park approximately 12 miles offshore of Boothbay Harbor.

On April 8, Hywind Maine project manager Kristin Aamodt said Boothbay fisherman Larry Knapp has been hired as its fisheries liaison for the project.

“We are very happy to have Larry on board,” Aamodt said. “It will be very important that we have a good dialog with the fishing industry.”

Knapp, a seventh generation fishermen, said he has watched the progress of offshore wind energy for years as a concerned fishermen. He sees his new role as that of a conduit between fishermen and Statoil.

“The good part is I get to be neutral,” Knapp said. “Basically, I will try to establish a dialog with the guys and take their concerns to the reps in Statoil so they can respond to them.”

Knapp has a long-history not only with fishing but also as a representative of the industry. He has served 15 years as chairman of the Zone E Lobster Council, is vice-chairman of the Lobster Conservation Management Team and also chairs Boothbay’s Port Committee. He also served for 15 years on the Lobster Advisory Council.

“I have gotten to know a lot of people over the years and people are comfortable talking to me about their concerns,” Knapp said. Knapp said he has already begun speaking with fishing groups about Statoil’s project and plans to continue a mostly informal dialog.

“Whenever they call me, I will make time to hear them,” he said.

Aamodt also said Statoil has hired Laura Taylor Singer, a former Director of Collaborative Research at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources, as fisheries research advisor for Hywind Maine.

Both Taylor and Knapp are expected to play key roles in defining the precise location for the turbines.

Aamodt said Knapp will serve as the fishermen’s spokesperson to ensure their concerns are addressed as project plans are developed.

Aamodt said the Hywind Maine project is moving into the next phase but a final investment decision is still a year and a half away. The company’s emphasis now is on environmental surveys on land and sea to meet the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) requirements for leasing the site.

Statoil will also be developing detailed construction and operations plans to submit to the federal ocean agency. Environmental studies and constructions plans will used by BOEM to develop an environmental impact statement that defines the potential effects of the proposal.

Aamodt said the specific cable route to transport electricity from the turbines to the Maine grid has not yet been defined. She said the company still plans to bring energy produced by the turbines onshore in the Boothbay region.

Regarding supply chain development, Aamodt said Statoil has begun mapping companies in Maine but has not yet identified specific suppliers.

“We have given our guarantee to do as much as we can in the state of Maine,” Aamodt said.

Because there are currently no large turbine suppliers in Maine, she said it is unlikely the turbines will be constructed in Maine, but a large portion of the substructures can be. Statoil is still considering port options for deploying the turbine.

“We are very pleased with the project’s progress. The support we’ve seen at the state and local level has made it clear that this is something the people of Maine want to happen,” Aamodt said.

The company plans more public outreach later in the year, but no details are available at this time.

Sue Mello can be reached at 207-844-4629 or sumello@boothbayregister.com.