AUGUSTA – Gov. John Baldacci is rejecting wind-power critics’ request for a moratorium on grid-scale projects in Maine.

At a State House news conference Friday, the Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power asked Baldacci to order a stop in permits for large-scale wind farms until more studies into their noise impacts can be done. Maine has five wind farms either in operation or under construction and several more are proposed or under study.

Baldacci spokesman David Farmer said the governor rejects the idea of a moratorium. Farmer says a thorough review and permitting process is in effect and Baldacci supports properly sited wind projects.

Baldacci on Friday joined the governors of six East Coast states in a meeting with the U.S. secretary of the interior to discuss offshore wind farms.The Associated Press

BOSTON — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar vowed Friday to work closely with Atlantic Coast states to streamline the permitting process for offshore wind energy projects.

Salazar said the federal government must collaborate with the states — which include Maine, Massachusetts, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Rhode Island — to avoid long delays for appropriate projects.

Salazar’s goals include working to identify which coastal areas are best suited for wind turbines and discouraging speculators from rushing in to lay early claims ahead of the process.

Salazar, who spoke on a conference call after meeting Friday with several Atlantic Coast governors in Washington, also said he wanted to make sure that future wind projects avoid the kind of protracted delays that have beset the Cape Wind project.

The project to build 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound has been in the works for nine years and has run into fierce opposition from critics who say it threatens aviation, birds and commercial fishing interests.

Salazar is still weighing the fate of the $1 billion project, which developers say will provide cheaper energy, reduce pollution and create green jobs. Gov. Deval Patrick supports it.

Salazar said that under the Obama administration there has been a renewed focus on offshore wind energy, which had been plagued by regulatory red tape in the past.

”We were able to break that logjam and there are a set of rules now,” he said, adding that future projects ”won’t be subjected to the same kind of time frame as Cape Wind.”

The governors said they welcomed the extra support.

”We all agree the time is now,” said Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri. ”We need to move ahead as a nation rapidly.”

Carcieri’s administration has signed a deal with Deepwater Wind LLC to build a project that could involve about 100 turbines roughly 15 to 20 miles off the shoreline. In the near term, the company hopes to build a smaller demonstration project off Block Island. The projects still require multiple permits.

Maine Gov. John Baldacci said he believes strongly in the future of offshore wind power.

In December, Maine officials identified three wind-power test sites in the Gulf of Maine. Experimentation will start with floating test turbines anchored in 200 to 300 feet of water.

The first floating turbines could be in place in 2011, and larger windmills would be deployed starting in 2013, before construction of the first windmills in a commercial array. Private companies will be invited to propose projects at the two sites and the University of Maine, which has received an $8 million federal grant, will develop the third.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said besides clean energy, offshore wind also offers the opportunity for ”green jobs for Americans.”

”There is no reason why we should have to import these technologies from other countries,” he said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.