The headlines of this article really do speak many thousand words, or $US 2.5 billon dollars - take your pick: “Company that dropped Maine project invests $2.5 billion in wind farm off the United Kingdom” from http://www.centralmaine.com/2014/07/15/company-that-dropped-maine-project-invests-2-5-billion-in-wind-farm-off-scotland/.
Well, when it comes to competent management of a state such as Maine, you can’t really include their present Governor (Paul LePage) near such a statement, because it is such a contradiction in terms. The Governor is a bit like a recurring grenade with a loose pin - a hazard to anyone nearby. And while he can grift with the best of them, he seems to delight in making things worse for most residents of Maine. In fact, he seems to be their very own “Resident Evil”, which only they can make go away by not splitting the election ticket as was done in 2010.
That state of Maine is “gifted” with what appears to be prodigious offshore wind resources in the Gulf of Maine, and extremely impressive winds along its coastline. It is also located less than 200 to 300 miles away from one of THE major electricity markets in the USA - the Boston metropolitan area, home to around 8 million people, many with significant purchasing power. Matching that electricity demand (perhaps an average of 8 GW) with the “permanent gale” in the Gulf of Maine and the very decent winds closer to shore, and couple that to a state in severe need of industrial jobs and a great competency in marine operations/construction (including the shipbuilding capability at the Bath Iron Works) would be a great thing to do. That’s something like $40 billion worth of opportunity plus many tens of billions more when the electricity markets in the NY City metro regions (even just 10% of that would be around 5 GW, or $25 billion worth of opportunity).
But LePage being LePage, well, he thumbed his nose big time at a company called Statoil when they asked the Gov to allow them to experiment with floating offshore wind turbines a few years ago. So what (or who) is Statoil? Well, it’s a huge corporation from Norway, mostly owned by the people of Norway through their government - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statoil - 67% by the Norwegian government. It also happens to be the 23rd biggest corporation in the world if just profits are concerned and many times larger than the GDP of the State of Maine/bigger than the government of Maine. All this from a mere 23,000 employees, Statoil is particularly adept in offshore oil and gas operations in the North Sea, which has waters even more hazardous than those near Maine.
Statoil is big in both petroleum discovery/refining/production as well as electricity production. They have decided to diversify their hydrocarbon efforts with offshore wind farms, which is part of their core competency (offshore operations in the North Atlantic Ocean). See http://www.statoil.com/en/technologyinnovation/newenergy/renewablepowerproduction/offshore/pages/default.aspx. They currently own half of the Sherringham Shoal wind farm (UK) - 317 MW - which is made up of of 88 x 3.6 MW Siemens wind turbines and 2 pretty large offshore substations (partnered with another Norwegian company). The Shoal array makes and average of 1.1 TW-hr/yr (40 % net average yield) from the 107 meter rotor diameter. If the is turbine had been available with 120 meter blades at the time, odds are net outputs would average 50%. This project was “only” around $US 1.2 billion one - the up coming Dudgeon project will be about 402 MW, and the more speculative Dogger Bank A (1200 MW) will involve a total investment of close to $US 6 billion.
So, when you screw over the likes of Statoil, don’t expect them to “come back for another screw-over”. They have better things to do with their billions than to get worked over by an apparently crazy person. They can go elsewhere with their money and expertise, which is what they did. In this case they went to Scotland and England, and laid a few billion on the table.
Meanwhile, not to be outdone by the antics of LePage comes the Republican controlled US House of Representatives, which represents the persons known as “Big Corporations” almost to the exclusion of anyone else. It seems that are trying to stop the $US 2.6 billion development called the Cape Wind project in nearby Massachusetts - see http://www.offshorewind.biz/2014/07/16/cape-wind-faces-another-hurdle/. Evidently, fealty to even one of the “errant Koch boys” trumps immediate economic sense. But, even William Koch has a few billion at his disposal, and he also has friends, and really, all that matters is campaign contributions. And a few tens of thousands of “contributions” to Congressional campaign reelection funds in many cases buys loyalty from greedy or “hungry” or worried right wing Congresscritters.
Oh well, just about 2 months units most primary elections are happening, and then its but a couple more until November. We have yet to see the worst of this years re-election behaviors, especially by the sub-set of Congress-critters with zip for principals and a working motto of “money buys legislative love”. Fasten your seats, as this will get ugly, and fabulously immoral. But, thanks to some recent decisions by “The Supremes”, it’s now The American Way….
Top photo from http://www.scira.co.uk/construction/construction.php