The consortium behind the Maine Aqua Ventus demonstration project has reportedly decided to stop investigating the Port Clyde route as one of the preferred for the transmission link to the mainland. According to the local media, Maine Aqua Ventus has given up on this route due to concerns raised by local fishermen, who would be banned from operating in the route area.
In early November, the project team had scheduled a subsea geophysical survey of the cable route between Port Clyde and the project site, only to announce the survey was postponed to January 2018 shortly after, as a response to feedback received from the Zone D fishing community and the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
The following month, Maine Aqua Ventus notified the fishermen and other stakeholders that the subsea cable geophysical survey was delayed until February-March. “The additional time allows us to identify cable routes where the cable can be buried so that you can continue fishing over it, just like the undersea cable to Cutler. We are working with state and federal agencies to ensure that all fishing, both fixed and mobile, can continue unaffected once the buried cable is installed,” the project’s notice reads.
In response to a petition to ban subsea cables in Port Clyde issued in October 2017, Maine Aqua Ventus said that the offshore cable for the project was proposed in an existing, charted route, where existing active cables serve the islands off Port Clyde, and that locating the project’s transmission link in the existing cable way minimised impact on local fishermen. The project team had also proposed burying the cable as much as possible and using existing transmission infrastructure to minimise visual impact.
However, according to the latest news from the local media, fishermen using mobile gear are allowed to operate in the charted cable way since the cable is inactive and they would have been otherwise prohibited from fishing there. If the offshore wind project would had gone ahead with adding its cable, the Maine Department of Marine Resources would have had to restrict fishing in the route area.
The project team had identified eleven other cable routes and will start investigating two most favourable of those in March 2018.
Meanwhile, Maine Aqua Ventus is waiting for an approval of its power purchase contract with Central Maine Power Company from Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which recently decided to delay making a final decision and to obtain more public comment, due to changes in the energy market since 2014, when the initial terms were approved. After the PUC’s decision, Project Counsel for Maine Aqua Ventus said that the project developers will work with the PUC and Central Maine Power Co. on a new proposal for the power contract.