overnor Janet Mills delivered on her promise. Maine did not wait.
Since the state’s Climate Action Plan, Maine Won’t Wait, was released in December 2020, the Pine Tree State has steadily worked toward achieving the initiative’s goals. The four-year plan outlines actionable strategies to emit less carbon, produce energy from renewable sources and protect Maine’s natural resources and wildlife.
Within the last year, Maine has secured multiple projects to diversify its alternative energy network. In November 2022, DG Fuels, an emerging leader in the production of cellulosic drop-in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), announced that it was locating its second SAF facility in Aroostook County. The company has secured a 1,240-acre site for this project and expects to break ground in summer 2024.
DG Fuels has also partnered with HydrogenPro, a leading supplier of alkaline electrolyzer technology and systems, to supply its locations in Maine and Louisiana with water electrolyzers. Both locations are set to have an initial output of approximately 175 million gallons of SAF per year, which has the potential to remove 1.5 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually.
“SAF will play a vital role in decarbonizing the aviation industry, especially because it can be mixed with conventional fuel today without the companies having to make big investments in engines or fuel tanks,” said Richard Espeseth, interim CEO and founder of HydrogenPro, in November 2022. “We look forward to supplying the green hydrogen technology that will fuel the shift within the aviation industry.”
In March, the Lincoln Town Council approved a 20-plus-year lease with Biofine Developments Northeast (BDNE), a company that produces 100% renewable chemicals and biofuels from cellulose. Through this agreement, BDNE has partnered with the Town of Lincoln to construct a biofuels refinery on a site formerly home to the Lincoln Pulp & Tissue Mill.
According to the official press release, phase one of this project will require a private-sector investment of over $100 million. By the time the project is completed, BDNE expects to create 500 new jobs, with 160 introduced during the first phase. Construction is scheduled to begin in July 2024.
Windfall On and Offshore
Maine’s natural resources offer great potential for off- and onshore wind developments. Its neighbors, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are equally poised to profit from this expanding industry. So, the Pine Tree State is saddling up to get ahead of the game.
This February, the Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) launched the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap. This 18-month, stakeholder-driven comprehensive plan charts a course for Maine to actualize economic, energy and climate benefits from offshore wind while coexisting with the Gulf of Maine’s communities, fisheries and wildlife. The initiative is supported by a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Currently, Maine has 80 companies affiliated with the offshore wind industry, which has the potential to generate $109 billion in private investment by 2030.
In August 2022, as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030, the Department of the Interior released a “Request for Interest” (RFI) to indicate whether commercial interest existed for obtaining wind energy leases within an area that spans around 13.6 million acres in the Gulf of Maine.
Following this announcement, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) to conduct a spatial analysis of the area mentioned in the RFI. After gathering feedback from tribes, states, existing ocean users and the public, the area the RFI included was reduced to 9.8 million acres.
On April 26, BOEM published the Commercial Leasing for Wind Power Development on the Gulf of Maine Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) - Call for Information and Nominations in the Federal Register. According to the release, “this Call invites public comment on and assesses the interest in possible commercial wind energy development in areas offshore Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. This represents an early step in the commercial planning and leasing process and the first required by BOEM regulations.”
The determination to expand Maine’s wind network also extends to its onshore wind developments. Within the last year, two significant developments were announced to double the state’s onshore wind capacity.
In February, state regulators gave the green light to a $2 billion, 1-GW onshore wind project that will construct the largest wind farm in the northeastern United States. Approximately 179 turbines will be built near Houlton, on the U.S.-Canada border. Developer Longroad Energy is spearheading the project and expects to begin construction in 2026. Upon completion in 2028, the farm will produce around 3.2 million MWh a year, according to Longroad Energy’s redacted term sheet.
Maine and Massachusetts have collaborated on this project to develop an essential piece of infrastructure, a 345-kV transmission line. The line will deliver renewable energy from Aroostook County to the existing New England grid. LS Power has been selected to develop over 100 miles of new transmission lines, with POWER Engineers, Inc. providing design engineering and construction support services for the project.
With these projects in place, Maine has only begun to scratch the surface of its clean energy potential.