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1/29/2014 6:00:00 PM
Bristol Committee Wants Turbines to Provide Free Electricity for School

By J.W. Oliver

The Bristol Wind Power Advisory Committee wants an offshore-wind project to provide the town with free electricity for its elementary school, among several other benefits.

Bristol Wind Power Advisory Committee member Rob Davidson (center right, with cap) speaks during a committee meeting at the New Harbor fire station Jan. 15. The committee wants an offshore-wind project to provide the town with free electricity for its elementary school and other benefits. (Photo courtesy Sherrie Tucker/www.sherrietucker.com)
Bristol Wind Power Advisory Committee member Rob Davidson (center right, with cap) speaks during a committee meeting at the New Harbor fire station Jan. 15. The committee wants an offshore-wind project to provide the town with free electricity for its elementary school and other benefits. (Photo courtesy Sherrie Tucker/www.sherrietucker.com)
 
The committee outlined its requests in public comments to the Maine Public Utilities Commission regarding the Maine Aqua Ventus I term sheet, which establishes the conditions for the project to sell its electricity.

"It is the desire of (the committee) to advocate on behalf of the town for contract terms which yield net positive results for the town," according to the comments.

The committee wants Maine Aqua Ventus I to provide Bristol Consolidated School with free electricity.

The committee also wants the company to work with BCS to develop a free program to educate BCS students about wind power. The program would consist of in-school presentations and on-site field trips, according to the comments.

The committee wants the commission to exempt Bristol electric ratepayers from a rate increase that will help support the project. The average household customer will pay an extra $0.73 per month, according to the committee website.

The committee also wants Maine Aqua Ventus I to give preference to Bristol and Monhegan contractors for the construction, operation and maintenance of the wind farm.

Other comments encourage the state to strengthen the contract requirements, in general, regarding the use of Maine businesses and workers.

The comments ask for Maine Aqua Ventus I to submit annual reports to Bristol and Monhegan.

Finally, the comments ask the state to require more information about both the underwater cable from the turbines to the mainland, and the electricity transmission route once the cable reaches shore.

The Public Utilities Commission approved the term sheet Jan. 14, the day after the date on the comments. The term sheet includes requirements to benefit Maine businesses and workers, as well as Monhegan, but does not include any provisions specific to Bristol.

"The goal of the requests was to add Bristol's voice to the comments," Bristol Wind Power Advisory Committee Chairwoman Andrea Cox said. The official deadline for public comments was Dec. 20, 2013, just days after the committee's first meeting.

The committee will discuss whether to pursue its requests with Maine Aqua Ventus, Cox said.

The committee wants the town to be "brought into the loop as much as possible, and to be included with all aspects of planning if this project should go forward in Bristol," she said.

Maine Aqua Ventus I GP LLC, the company behind the project, plans to install two floating wind turbines in state waters about 12 miles southeast of mainland Bristol and 3 miles south of Monhegan in 2017.





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