Blanket prohibitions on off-shore wind will only ensure that Maine does not reap economic benefit from such development
On Monday, May 3, Ben Gilman, general counsel for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, delivered the following testimony before the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology in support of LD 1619, An Act To Establish a Moratorium on Offshore Wind Power Projects in Maine’s Territorial Waters, and in opposition to LD 101, An Act To Prohibit Offshore Wind Energy Development.
Senator Lawrence, Representative Berry, and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, my name is Ben Gilman. I am from Gorham, and I represent the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, a statewide business organization made up of both large and small businesses. I am here to provide you with our testimony in support of LD 1619, An Act To Establish a Moratorium on Offshore Wind Power Projects in Maine’s Territorial Waters, and in opposition to LD 101, An Act To Prohibit Offshore Wind Energy Development.
The State Chamber is here today to speak in strong opposition to LD 101, which seeks to place a blanket prohibition on a specific industry and to deny Mainers the ability to develop that industry. In the past, the Chamber has opposed such blanket prohibitions on business and economic development, and we do so again now. This wrong-headed bill will not, and cannot, stop development of offshore wind in federal waters. All it can do is ensure that Maine does not participate in this development and reaps no economic benefit from such development. It robs Maine’s future and delivers it to Massachusetts, while ensuring that Maine’s fishing industry will have little or no input into the federal process.
More importantly, the Chamber is also here today to speak in support of LD 1619. This bill proposes to wisely balance competing uses within Maine’s territorial waters in order to sustain traditional and existing uses and the resources and wildlife within those waters while protecting Maine’s investment in offshore wind and its present and future opportunities to build a Maine-based industry that will serve development in federal waters within the Gulf of Maine.
We will leave details on both bills to others. Our view is quite simple:
The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC), under former Chairman Tom Welch, determined seven years ago that the demonstration project at Monhegan would provide “…sufficient economic benefits to Maine in terms of direct and indirect investment, environmental benefits, innovation and development of knowledge base within the state to merit awarding a contract at above market rates.”
The Welch commission’s determination has been borne out by subsequent developments around the world and by developments along the East Coast from Massachusetts to North Carolina. A sampling of the view of economic development and technical experts on these opportunities includes:
To us, there can be no debate. Offshore wind is coming to the East Coast. Offshore wind is coming to the Gulf of Maine. Offshore wind will either provide good jobs for Maine residents and opportunities for an entire supply chain in Maine … or, it will all still happen, but with no economic benefits for Maine. This is why we ask this committee to reject LD 101 and to pass LD 1619.
In the words of Chairman Tom Welch, first spoken at deliberations in 2014, but captured for all time in a Commission Order:
Finally, there is an unquantifiable, but nevertheless important, economic value associated with establishing Maine on the forefront of offshore wind development. This Project is the kind of investment contemplated by the Ocean Energy Act as the foundation for building a strong offshore wind industry in Maine. In addition, projects such as this establish Maine as a center for cutting edge development of this emerging technology and may capture the imagination and generate excitement among a new generation of talented professionals attracted to Maine. Retaining this young talent in Maine could only have a positive effect on Maine’s demographic and economic future.
We urge this committee to share Chairman Welch’s vision of the future and lay the groundwork for a brand-new Maine industry.
If you have any questions, please contact Ben Gilman by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 108, or by emailing email@example.com.