Aqua Ventus

Renewable energy project powers up

Posted:  Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 6:15pm

A Maine wind project just received a bit of a jolt.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission gave the Aqua Ventus Project the green light on Tuesday, Jan. 16. The project would erect wind mills off the coast of Monhegan.

The PUC approved it, 2-1, which moves the wind power project forward.

Aqua Ventus, which drew criticism from Bristol residents during a November meeting, is a joint effort between the University of Maine and several private companies.

The Public Utility Commission has proven to be a hurdle to wind projects in the past; in 2012 the commission voted against a Norwegian company's first offer to invest in wind energy off the coast of Boothbay Harbor before later approving an amended proposal.

Statoil's Hywind project needed two attempts for the PUC’s approval. The first proposal, which would have caused ratepayers to pay $200 million in increased costs to fund the project, was deemed too expensive for taxpayers and sent back on its first attempt. Despite terms being worked out later, Statoil canceled its project after legislative woes.

As the project gets closer, focus has been shifted onto the local level. The Bristol Wind Power Advisory Council recently launched Bristol Matters, to study the potential effects, good and otherwise, of the Aqua Ventus project.