“Maine’s construction industry appreciates the governor’s decision to stand up for more than 90% of skilled workers who live here. The bill’s provisions would directly impact the cost of building offshore wind and the associated facilities,” said Kelly Flagg, Executive Director of the Associated General Contractors of Maine (AGC Maine).
The 131st Maine Legislature amended the governor’s bill, LD 1847, with language from a bill, LD 1818, presented by Senator Chip Curry to establish labor standards for offshore wind power projects. The language contains specific requirements that could impact electricity bills and push aside qualified skilled workers in Maine’s construction industry.
The original language in LD 1847 was drafted by the governor’s office to address the visual impact standards for a new port terminal. The Offshore Wind Port Advisory Group has been meeting during the last year to provide feedback to the Maine Department of Transportation on potential port sites to service the offshore wind industry. The amended version included new provisions that created a workforce preference that is in direct contrast to the construction industry demographics in Maine.
“Maine’s construction industry — both union and non-union work side by side in a competitive market with employment standards, including prevailing wage, prequalification, and other standards that ensure safety and performance. The amended bill would have introduced unworkable workforce requirements and discounted the thousands of skilled workers who already built 100% of Maine’s land-based wind,” Flagg said.
The governor could soon be faced with another decision for offshore wind procurement with similar language and additional criteria that may introduce serious cost implications for Maine’s ratepayers. LD 1895, An Act Regarding the Procurement of Energy from Offshore Wind Resources, was recently passed by the Maine House and Senate. In addition to the workforce requirements, the bill also requires fees paid by the developer to an Offshore Wind Research Consortium Fund.
“There is a disconnect in the proposed bill that creates artificial inflation of the energy when Maine ratepayers are looking for relief and predictably priced clean energy. Through our natural resource advantages of strong winds and a talented and experienced workforce, we’ve been presented with a significant opportunity, and the heavy-handed standards designed by lawmakers aren’t practical,” Flagg said. “AGC Maine stands ready to support the governor and lawmakers as they work toward designing a sustainable, cost-effective, and inclusive offshore wind policy.”