Advocate touts wind energy bill

February 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

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HAMPTON — The man behind a bill asking the state to study offshore wind energy said the response at a public hearing was “very encouraging.”

Doug Bogen, the executive director of the Seacoast Anti-Pollution League, presented testimony to the Science, Technology and Energy Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives on Tuesday in which he noted that wind offshore is stronger and more consistent than on land, as well as closer to population centers, and that the U.S. Department of Energy has calculated that more than 200,000 kilowatts of power can be generated in the Gulf of Maine, or more than six times the power used in all of New England.

House Bill 1312, sponsored by Hampton Democrat Renny Cushing, seeks to establish a committee to study offshore wind energy development comprising three members of the House and three members of the Senate. Cushing said he hopes the formation of this committee would be a way to get the stakeholders together to see if the state could benefit from capturing wind energy at sea.

Bogen points out that Maine has set a goal to produce 5,000 megawatts of power from offshore wind turbines by 2030.

“Combined with other renewable power sources, this is more than enough to power the whole state,” he said.

Bogen said Maine’s efforts would lay the groundwork for New Hampshire to easily follow suit, though with a smaller-scale effort due to its shorter coastline.

That pilot program would create the first floating wind farm in the United States, Bogen said. While there are several such farms in Europe, he said the concept of a floating farm of wind turbines — as opposed to the ones staked in the ground — hasn’t yet been done here.

“In the Gulf of Maine, it appears that floating is the way to go,” Bogen said, noting the higher winds, greater reliability and out-of-view nature of a farther-out, floating farm.

Bogen posited that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is “ideally suited to play a key role in the development and installation of large offshore wind and other renewable technologies.”

“It has the right facilities along with a work force trained in marine engineering, construction, repair and maintenance,” he said.

Bogen said the first phase of Maine’s program, a pilot program of just 12 megawatts, would create as many as 341 jobs and trigger at least $120 million in investment.

“With so much at stake for both our environment and economy,” he said. “We can’t afford not to be pursuing this vast sustainable resource.”


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