FRIENDSHIP, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The University of Maine is moving forward with a plan to bring offshore wind technology to the Gulf of Maine.
It is presenting its plan for an offshore wind project to the communities that will be most affected by the project.
The university is competing for a $46 million federal Department of Energy grant to build a 500 megawatt wind farm in the Gulf of Maine. In May, UMaine deployed a 1:8 scale model turbine in the ocean near Maine Maritime in Castine to collect data and test the technology. By 2017, the university plans to build two full size 270 foot, six megawatt wind turbines near Monhegan Island
Engineers from UMaine held the first of three public meetings in Friendship Tuesday night. The plan did not come up against much opposition at the meeting, but residents were concerned about how the wind turbines will affect the quality of life in their town and the fishery so many rely on.
Representatives from UMaine showed them the research that they are currently doing with the data they are collecting from the test turbine in Castine. They say they are studying the affects the turbines will have on the fishermen and their boats, as well as noise produced by the turbines and affects on wildlife. Representative Jeff Evangelos raised concerns about the politics behind the project and the affect on the fishing industry.
"I think the ethics behind this whole thing are rotten," Evangelos said. "I think it's going to hurt us more than it's going to help us, and I certainly wouldn't support any industry that puts our fishing industry at risk even for one day in terms of their ability to make a living, when you can't prove this method of generating power could ever be profitable without federal bailouts."
"What we're trying to focus on is, we have a great technology," University of Maine Vice-President of Innovation and Economic Development said "It was designed to work in the Maine environment, it was designed for the Gulf of Maine, we used real Maine data, it was designed to be built in Maine. We took into full consideration the capabilities of Maine companies in constructing and building this. So it can be built here, it can be installed here, and it can provide some economic benefit for the State of Maine."
There will be two more public meetings held, one in Bristol and another in Port Clyde.