Grant for Offshore Wind Project Could Mean Thousands of Jobs for Mainers 

The University of Maine will design the first offshore wind project in the country.The Department of Energy has granted $4 million for the initial phase design of a deepwater floating offshore wind energy project off the coast.Senator Susan Collins has been working on this project for years and says this new development could bring 20,000 new jobs to the pine tree state.This Maine-based project will compete for an additional $47 million in federal grants for further development of the turbine.In total, the project could bring almost $95 million to the state, making this one of the largest investments in the University. President of UMaine, Paul Ferguson explained “Private companies will be partnering with the government and the DOE, putting up about $50 million eventually.”The University of Maine Engineers will try to harness a huge energy resource that already exists just off of Maine’s coastline. Teams plan to install two 6-megawatt direct-drive turbines on concrete semi-submersible foundations near Monhegan Island. Director of Advanced Structure and Composites Center, Habib Dagher said “This is an opportunity to rely on resources here next door, off the Maine coast, and use that resource to fuel our cars and heat our homes.”Earlier this year the DOE announced $180 million in funding for the next 6 years for wind energy off of the United States coasts. The New England Aqua Ventus I is one of seven projects being funded by the DOE. Not only does the project mean more jobs, but it could also save homeowners money on heating and oil. Dagher said wind on the coast is so powerful it’s the equivalent of 150 nuclear power plants.U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu adds it’s important for the country to explore new technologies to find untapped clean energy sources and Maine is a great place to do so. Engineers plan to have commercial use of the project by 2017.