The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted unanimously to review the term sheet for the Maine Aqua Ventus (MAV) offshore wind project, citing changes that have occurred since the term sheet was originally approved more than four years ago. The Commissioners noted that, given these changes, this review is necessary to ensure that the MAV proposal continues to meet all applicable legal requirements and is in the public interest.
MAV, led by the University of Maine, is developing the two-turbine, 12-MW pilot project. In 2014, the PUC approved a term sheet that laid out the provisions of a potential long-term power purchase agreement between MAV and Central Maine Power. Earlier this year, the PUC decided to reopen the public comment period before approving a PPA, citing power price concerns.
It maintains that since the term sheet was initially approved in February 2014, there have been significant changes in energy markets and technology, as well as changes to some of the specific provisions of the MAV project and proposal. Before approving a 20-year long contract with MAV, at an estimated cost to CMP’s ratepayers in excess of $200 million, the Commission noted that it is obligated to review the terms of the MAV contract in the context of these changed circumstances.
As one example of the changed circumstances, the Commissioners cited recent energy market price projections that are as much as 80% lower than those considered by the Commission when it approved the MAV term sheet.
“The Commission understands the importance of this project to MAV and its stakeholders. On the other hand, it is incumbent on the Commission to ensure that the proposal continues to meet the legal requirements established by the Maine Legislature in 2010 and remains in the public interest of Maine citizens and businesses” stated Chairman Mark Vannoy.
The proposed MAV term sheet and contract results from the 2010 legislation An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Governor’s Ocean Energy Task Force, Public Law 2009, Chapter 615 (Ocean Energy Act) and the 2013 supplemental legislation An Act to Provide for Economic Development with Offshore Wind Power, Public Law 2013, Chapter 378.
The MAV term sheet was initially approved by the Commission in February 2014 in Docket No. 2010-00235. In response to its January 24, 2018 Order Requesting Comment, the Commission recently received more than 300 comments on several matters. These comments were thoroughly reviewed by the Commission before reaching its decision in today’s deliberations.