Island residents call on developer to continue communication on future of ocean energy test site
MONHEGAN — The Monhegan Energy Task Force issued a statement yesterday responding to the U.S. Department of Energy's decision not to grant funds to Maine Aqua Ventus' proposed offshore wind project, MAV I. The decision means MAV I will face obstacles to moving forward. The project intended to deploy two wind turbines at a test site roughly two miles from Monhegan Island.
Monhegan Energy Task Force (METF) is made up of thirteen year-round and seasonal residents. "METF was neither for nor against the MAV I offshore wind project," said Marian Chioffi, METF co-chair. "METF organized in order to keep island voices at the forefront of conversation in regards to the ocean energy test site near Monhegan. We hope that despite the funding not being granted to MAV, that communications will continue and Monhegan's best interests will be addressed in any future development at the test site."
"Monhegan is a unique place and our economy is delicately balanced between fishing and tourism," said Tara Hire, METF –co-chair, "both of which depend on the conservation of the environment on and around Monhegan."
Monhegan has a history of conservation. It sits in the middle of a lobster fishing conservation zone and two-thirds of the island is conserved in a land trust. Thousands of visitors come to Monhegan each year to enjoy, hiking, bird watching, and painting the unique nature of the island.
Monhegan has one of the highest electric rates in the country at $0.70/kWh. The Monhegan Plantation Power District (MPPD) has been actively pursuing ways to reduce this cost with a focus on clean, economical energy sources. The MAV I project presented the opportunity to tie into the wind turbines, reducing energy costs for islanders.
Going forward, the item of highest priority for Monhegan, according to Hire, is getting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by Monhegan representatives and any developer at the test site off of Monhegan. The MOU would commit the prospective developer to communicate directly with the task force about any project to be deployed in the test site.
"Despite this particular proposal not being funded, our experience still serves as an important example of how communities and developers need to engage on the potential for wind development in this state," Chioffi said. "Communities like ours need to have a seat at the table in order to reach a good outcome for everyone."
For more information on the Monhegan Energy Task Force and its role in the Maine Aqua Ventus project, visit monheganenergy.info.