Future Of Maine Offshore Wind Project Now Uncertain After Political Battle 

A Norweigian based energy company has put their plans to invest in offshore wind power off the coast of Maine on hold.Statoil has informed the Public Utilities Commission of their decision, citing last minute changes to the state’s energy policy made by state lawmakers.Those changes would give the University of Maine a second chance to submit a proposal.Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall took part in a conference call with Statoil officials on Wednesday as Democratic leaders are now pointing the finger at Governor LePage, saying his “hatred of wind power and offshore wind power” fueled the move to keep Statoil out of Maine.In a letter sent to the PUC from Statoil the company said: “Given the risk and uncertainty created by LD 1472, Statoil is therefore preparing to put the Hywind Maine Project on hold, while we continue to assess the changes made to the law, the total risk picture and progress plan going forward. We will keep the option open to re-initiate project activity if an agreement can be concluded according to the term sheet, and the total risk picture in Maine is acceptable.””They’re the only private interest that has significantly shown interest in funding a project,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall, a Richmond Democrat. “We’re very supportive of UMaine. But UMaine has not received the financial backing of any companies with the resources to actually make it viable at this point. It’s just a huge disappointment because when was the last time that we’ve had a major international corporation looking at putting roots down in Maine over any other state in the country?”LePage spokesperson Adrienne Bennett denies that accusation, saying the Statoil proposal would have cost Maine ratepayers more than $200 million-and UMaine should have the ability to compete for a project that’s going to benefit the state.The Director of the governor’s Energy Office, Patrick Woodcock says Mainers are paying some of the highest rates for electricity in the country, any additional fees must have dramatic dividends for the Maine economy. “At $200 million Maine should be receiving a significant return on our investment. The Statoil term sheet does nothing specific to grow the Maine economy over the long-term and this announcement raises further questions about how committed this company was to our State for the long-term.”