Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 24, 2013
Project proposes small-scale wind turbine off Dyce Head
Public comments on test project accepted through January 27
by Anne Berleant
A proposed University of Maine project would place a 1/8-scale wind turbine in Castine Harbor, off Dyce Head, for four months, with installation targeted for March 1. By permit, it must be removed by the end of June, said Jennifer DeJoy, Maine Maritime Academy Public Affairs Director.
Maine Maritime Academy is cooperating with the University of Maine on the project, which is part of its DeepCwind Consortium Research Program.
The project follows the placement of a test buoy in the same waters one year ago to collect data on the feasibility of offshore wind turbines in Penobscot Bay.
Last February, MMA President Bill Brennan informed town selectmen about the test buoy at a monthly town/gown meeting, and in September again brought up the offshore wind turbine project.
However, the proposed temporary wind turbine came as a surprise to Gus Basile, chairman of the board of selectmen. “I thought it was going to be underwater,” he said, adding that the proposal would likely be discussed at the January 23 town/gown meeting.
The state Department of Energy has released a draft assessment report of the proposal; January 27 is the cut-off date for public comments.
The wind turbine, like the test buoy, would be placed in state waters. It will be later moved to a test site in Monhegan Bay.
Seen, but not heard
With a total height of 57 feet and a rotor diameter of about 32 feet, the turbine will lie 41 feet offshore from the water line on a floating platform.
Two flashing white lights, 20 feet above the water, will be visible for at least six miles. The structure will also have a red Federal Aviation Administration light.
According to the assessment report, the turbine “might” be visible from parts of the historic district and high points on land like Fort George.
Noise from the 20-kW turbine creates 50 decibels at 120 feet, and at 500 to 1,000 feet would be “barely audible.”
Navigation safety zone
The turbine would be attached to a floating platform secured by four drag embedment anchors measuring 64 inches on their longest side or, if needed, larger concrete gravity anchors.
A MMA vessel will tow the platform from Brewer to its deployment location and assist with monitoring the equipment, said Jennifer Dejoy, and the academy has submitted a navigation safety plan to the U.S. Coast Guard for the four-month test period.
A “navigation safety zone” within a 700-foot radius around the floating turbine platform would prevent vessels from dragging, anchoring or fishing within the radius of the anchors and mooring lines.
A safety zone would also be established along a 500- to 1,000-foot electric cable running underwater from the turbine platform to shore. From there, the cable would run about 300 feet on private property to a Central Maine Power pole. The property owner has granted permission for the cable, and all permits and easements are in place, said DeJoy.
A full safety plan has been forwarded to the U.S. Coast Guard for approval, said DeJoy, and the turbine, “placed out of the way of navigation,” is scheduled to be removed prior to heavy sailing in the harbor.
Comments can be sent to DOE Golden Field Office c/o Laura Margason, 1617 Cole Boulevard, Golden, CO 80401 or laura.maragson2go.doe.gov. The draft assessment report can be read at eere.energy.gov/golden/NEPA_DEA.aspx.