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Maine Offshore Wind Project Gets Key Approval

Commissioner David Littell said the PUC had received letters in support of the project from the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, major state-based companies including construction firm Cianbro Corp. and Navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works, as well as smaller firms involved in research and engineering, metal fabricating, marine operators and industrial rope manufacturers.

"There's broad support from our business community for this proposal," said Littell. "The project is already producing work for approximately 25 workers in Maine and that number will increase over the next two to three years as it ramps up in design, engineering and preconstruction activities."

Littell also noted that an ocean energy law passed by the Legislature envisioned such a project, which would bring in large investments and advance the idea of developing large-scale offshore wind power production in the Gulf of Maine. The University of Maine leads a consortium of nonprofits, utilities and businesses whose goal is to generate 5 gigawatts of power by 2030, using floating turbines located 20-50 miles offshore.

The PUC decision won praise from Democratic legislative leaders, who called it a jobs booster.

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash called it "an opportunity for many Maine companies to develop cutting-edge expertise on energy projects not just in Maine but around the world."

Norway's government owns 67 percent of Statoil ASA's shares. The company has operations in 42 countries, largely in oil and gas.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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