Maine Audubon | Maine Labor Climate Council | Natural Resources Council of Maine | Union of Concerned Scientists | Maine Conservation Voters | Maine Climate Action Now | Iron Workers Local 7 | Laborers’ International Union Local 327 | Sierra Club Maine | Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council
Environmental, Labor advocates celebrate historic progress for clean energy development
July 26, 2023 (Augusta, ME) – At 3:00 this morning, a bill to jumpstart a new offshore wind industry for Maine was approved by the full Legislature. LD 1895, An Act Regarding the Procurement of Energy from Offshore Wind Resources, will generate not only a historic investment in affordable and reliable clean energy to power Maine’s homes, businesses, and transportation; but also an investment in the working Mainers needed to make it a reality.
The bill, as amended, will responsibly develop offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine and encourage new deepwater port construction while maintaining strong standards to ensure good-paying jobs for Maine workers and protections for wildlife, incentivizing the avoidance of important fishing grounds, and fostering broad stakeholder engagement and inclusive community benefits.
The opportunity presented by responsible offshore wind development has brought together a winning coalition of labor and environmental groups. The Mills Administration has indicated that the Governor will sign the bill, which will allow Maine to take advantage of the billions of dollars in private sector investment that would flow into the state’s ports, communities, and workforce.
Offshore wind development in Maine has garnered national interest as advocates seek to balance industry development with the state’s maritime heritage and existing marine uses to ensure the sustainable preservation of the natural resources in the Gulf of Maine. The coalition and stakeholders see LD 1895 as a national model for the clean energy transition and are highlighting the long-term job creation and economic development, supply chain and port infrastructure investment, and the opportunity to meet the state’s ambitious clean energy and climate change goals.
The legislation combines two critical initiatives to advance a new clean energy industry for Maine by setting a procurement schedule and constructing a port. It will:
Set a procurement schedule for a goal of 3 GW of installed offshore wind power in the Gulf of Maine by 2040, supplying affordable, reliable offshore wind to power homes, businesses, and transportation.
Incentivize responsibly developed wind projects that protect wildlife and avoid Lobster Management Area 1, one of Maine’s key fishing grounds.
Set strong and comprehensive labor and workforce development standards for good-paying jobs and ensure inclusive benefits for Maine’s most vulnerable communities.
Support the creation of a world-class, Maine-built offshore wind port that will bring in billions of dollars in economic development.
Help meet Maine’s bipartisan emissions reduction targets and put the state on a path to meeting Governor Mills’ proposed goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040.
“To combat climate change and invest in Maine’s energy independence, our state has set ambitious but necessary goals for renewable energy. It’s clear that this effort will involve offshore wind energy projects. If we know this is coming, we need to have guardrails in place to make sure this is done right and truly benefits Mainers,” said bill sponsor Sen. Mark Lawrence. “I’m grateful to my fellow legislators for supporting this bill. LD 1895 represents a detailed path to smart offshore wind development.”
“Maine is well positioned to be a leader in renewable energy and offshore wind. This bill will make sure that Maine’s workers, ratepayers, and economy get the best benefit possible,” said Sen. Chip Curry, D-Belfast. “I’m proud of all the careful consideration that went into shaping this legislation, and I’m eager to see it become law.”
“Maine’s clean energy future and our clean energy economy secured a major victory today,” said Kelt Wilska, Energy Justice Manager at Maine Conservation Voters. “When this bill is implemented, we’ll set a national example for how to responsibly develop a new, affordable energy source, grow good-paying jobs for our workers, and do so without compromising Maine values. We’re ready to get to work and launch this new industry.”
“This commitment to building an offshore wind industry for Maine shows that by working together we can do big things for our climate, economy and communities,” said Jack Shapiro, Climate & Clean Energy Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Legislators and Governor Mills are moving us decisively towards a clean energy future that will bring thousands of family-supporting jobs, protect the rich array of wildlife in the Gulf of Maine, avoid conflicts with important fishing grounds, and put us on a path to meet a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040.”
“Today, Maine’s lawmakers took a serious and measurable step toward accelerating our clean energy transition and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Eliza Donoghue, Maine Audubon’s Director of Advocacy. “This legislation is necessary to help ensure that appropriately sited and operated offshore wind development safely co-exists with Gulf of Maine wildlife and the marine habitats they rely on.”
“Today we have seen what collaboration and good faith negotiation can bring to the people of Maine. This bill passing, once signed, can launch a new renewable energy industry in Maine. We look forward to strong community engagement as the impacts and benefits of offshore wind roll out,” said Amy Eshoo, Director of Maine Climate Action Now.
“The Legislature has taken a major step forward in helping Maine tap into its immense offshore wind potential that will be critical for achieving the state’s climate and clean energy goals. The bill is a powerful piece of policy that will create high-quality jobs in a rapidly growing industry while establishing important safeguards for the environment, fishing industry, tribes, and local communities,” said Steve Clemmer, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Director of Energy Research and Analysis. “As the bill moves to Governor Mills’ desk, we look forward to her timely signing and subsequent collaboration to ensure prompt and fair implementation.”
“With a bang of the gavel, the legislature sent one simple but powerful message to working Mainers; and that was: ‘You matter and we need you'” said Jason J. Shedlock, President of the Maine State Building & Construction Trades Council and an officer with Local 327 of the Laborers’ International Union. “We’re confident that Governor Mills agrees and will underline that statement with the stroke of her pen in the coming days. We also know there’s little time to celebrate, as building this industry will take a sustained, all-hands-on-deck approach. And much like virtually every major construction project in Maine’s history, a vast majority of those hands will have one thing in common: when they reach into their back pockets, they’ll find a union card that doubles as their passport to a middle-class career with dignity.”
Maine has positioned itself as a national leader on climate with a comprehensive statewide Climate Action Plan, bipartisan emissions reduction targets, and strong clean energy policies that have driven record growth in heat pump and solar adoption. A proposed goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040 would continue this progress.
The bill now heads to Governor Mills’ desk and awaits further action.
BACKGROUND ON LD 1895:
The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) engaged a wide variety of stakeholders – including representatives from coastal communities, fisheries, business, conservation, clean energy, organized labor, and state government – in a multiyear process to develop the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap.
LD 1895 is the culmination of this work and builds on the Roadmap’s framework of responsible offshore wind development by requiring strong labor protections and fostering inclusive benefits for Maine’s most vulnerable communities.
As amended, the legislation sets a goal and procurement schedule for 3 gigawatts of offshore wind energy installed by 2040, which can be reevaluated and increased periodically by GEO.
GEO will also lead a public stakeholder process that will inform developer plan requirements for stakeholder engagement, economic and community benefits, diversity, equity, and inclusion in employment and contracting, and fisheries and wildlife research, monitoring, and mitigation.
The bill requires a request for comments from each federally recognized tribe in the state and the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission in crafting these plans. It will enact top recommendations from the Roadmap, including establishing strong standards for wildlife, fisheries, and environmental monitoring and mitigation.
Additionally, the bill includes a provision negotiated with lobstering groups to avoid conflicts within Lobster Management Area 1, a key fishing ground.
The amended legislation includes critical components of LD 1847 to ensure that a Maine offshore wind port is built with the same strong labor standards, that host communities benefit, and that Maine workers are prioritized. An additional component in the amendment from LD 1847, which received bipartisan support in the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, creates a framework for fairly and expeditiously permitting offshore wind port infrastructure.