Wassumkeag, the native American name for the island off of Searsport, is currently under attack. Wassumkeag, now known as Sears Island, has been a magnet for proposed industrial developments. These include a nuclear power plant, an aluminum smelter, a coal-fired generator, cargo ports and a liquid natural gas terminal.

Instead, Sears Island has managed to preserve the terms of a Conservation Easement by supporting permanent protection of environmental and cultural resources and encouraging educational and low-impact recreational uses of the island. Over 34,000 people and huge migrations of birds visit this island every year.

The latest proposed industrial development is New England Aqua Ventus I, an 11-megawatt floating offshore wind demonstration project designed to develop a renewable energy source off Maine’s shores.

Offshore wind can indeed be a responsible means to produce needed energy as we move from fossil fuels. This demonstration project is likely to be the first full-scale floating wind project in the Americas, with the promise of a technology unproven at this scale.

The technology of floating wind turbines is needed because Mainers have enacted a Moratorium in Maine’s Territorial Waters on more universally accepted offshore wind power projects using fixed structures. Floating wind turbine installations may be among the largest rotating machines ever constructed.

These large and heavy floating foundation wind turbine structures require a marshaling port facility with sufficient space to support the construction, operation and maintenance. They require large level land bases that can withstand 6,000 pounds per square foot, deepwater access, road infrastructure, power, potential to perform maintenance and even possible future concrete production/construction activities. Does such a marshaling port seem consistent with conservation on an island?

Fortunately there are other options for a marshaling port, not on Sears Island. Mack Point and Eastport provide favorable options. Let’s not let the need for Maine to develop a successful offshore wind project be an excuse to industrialize Sears Island and create a super-sized cargo port at government expense. Let’s see needed offshore wind harnessing come at the right time and place.

John Krueger