A headline can’t always tell you the whole story. Such was the case last week with the news that a “New Maine law prohibits offshore wind farms in state waters.”

The headline was accurate. Gov. Mills did sign L.D. 1619, which will prohibit the licensing, construction and operation of wind turbines in the state’s territorial waters, which extend three miles from shore.

But you would be wrong if you think that Maine is giving up on the idea of harnessing some of the strongest winds on the planet to generate clean, renewable power.

Rather than ending ocean wind development in the Gulf of Maine, this moratorium moves it forward. What this law really does is create a way that new technology can be tested in real-world conditions, observed by a consortium of energy experts, environmental scientists and fishermen – both commercial and recreational – to determine the best practices for what could be a major industry in the state for decades to come.

That’s a lot to fit in a headline, but it’s good news to anyone who followed the controversy early this year, when lobstermen demanded a halt to a long-planned, single-turbine demonstration project off Monhegan Island. The project was the fruit of a decade of research at the University of Maine, funded by state taxpayers and the federal Department of Energy, to develop a floating platform that could support a wind turbine in deep water.

Through the public-private partnership New England Aqua Ventus, investors are prepared to bring the idea to market, where, if it works, Maine would be the home port of a new industry just as people around the world are looking for ways to generate electricity without burning fossil fuels.

In a series of protests, lobstermen called for ending the ocean wind experiments, arguing that their important industry could be crowded out of its fishing grounds. Lobster boats even massed off Monhegan to interfere with a survey crew that was looking for the least disruptive route for a cable to transmit power from the single turbine to the electric grid.

As a result of the work by the fishermen, the governor’s office and legislators, that project will go forward. And so will a research array of up to 12 floating turbines located between 20 and 40 miles offshore in federal waters. Combined, those projects would give regulators the information they need to set permitting standards for future ocean wind projects that won’t disrupt traditional marine activities.

Resolving the dispute between the fishermen and the state allows the planning for both projects to move forward. Building the platforms, which each call for more reinforced concrete than the recently completed bridge between Kittery and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, will be a major manufacturing operation that will employ hundreds of people through years of construction.

In order to meet renewable power goals, states up and down the Eastern Seaboard have committed to buying more ocean wind energy than they can produce in shallow water projects with turbines mounted on the ocean floor. Success with the wind turbine experiment would create a market for power generated in the Gulf of Maine as well as demand for platforms built using the technology developed at the University of Maine, which owns the intellectual property.

The process is moving forward on several tracks at once.

On Wednesday, the Governor’s Energy Office is scheduled to host a meeting of interested parties to identify a site for the research array. Once that’s determined, the state will go forward with an application to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which overseas leases for projects in federal waters.

Meanwhile, the state will continue work on the Offshore Wind Roadmap, funded with a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The roadmap will identify investments in ports, infrastructure, supply chain and workforce development that will be needed to help the industry grow here.

It will incorporate the concerns of lobstermen and others who protested this year, but it will not answer the question of whether Maine should keep exploring offshore wind.

That question has already been answered. Under Mills’ leadership, Maine is committed to developing ocean wind technology that would be the basis of a new industry. That policy has been confirmed in the legislation passed and signed into law.

Halting new development in state waters, where most of the lobster fishery and recreational boating takes place, will allow this work to go forward with minimal disruption.

But this moratorium should be viewed as the beginning, and not the end, of  Maine’s next maritime industry.

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