September 8, 2010 - Maine ocean energy RFP

Backup diesel generators on Mount Desert Island, Maine. "Keeping the lights on" on island communities poses special challenges; diesel generators like these can be used to cover peak loads, or even provide backup power in the event of an outage. Photo courtesy of Drew Landry.

Of all the feedback I hear from developers of renewable energy projects, one of the most consistent observations is that it is difficult to finance and build a project without a long-term contract for the project's output. Because energy prices are so volatile, and because projects are typically capital-intensive and can have relatively long payback periods, a long-term contract is often viewed as necessary to attract the financing required to build a project. However, many buyers observe that they aren't interested in long-term contracts at the required prices for similar reasons of uncertainty.

To remedy this problem, in its most recent session the Maine Legislature enacted "An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Governor’s Ocean Energy Task Force", P.L. 2009, ch. 615. The Act directs the Maine PUC to issued an RFP for long-term contracts for deep-water offshore wind energy pilot projects and tidal energy demonstration projects. The RFP was published on September 1, 2010.

Here's a link to the MPUC's website for the RFP.

Here's the RFP itself (Word).

What is the Commission looking for? Up to 30 megawatts of installed capacity (and associated renewable energy and RECs) from deep-water offshore wind energy pilot projects or tidal energy demonstration projects; up to 5 of the megawatts can come from tidal energy demonstration projects.

Initial Proposals for deep-water offshore wind energy pilot projects and tidal energy demonstration projects will be due on or before May 1, 2011.