Wind power has benefits for Maine and its families

Posted March 10, 2010, at 6:27 p.m.

One cool summer morning in Chain of Ponds Township, I realized just how important wind power is to me, my family and our state.

Every Tuesday morning, Reed & Reed conducted a safety meeting with all of the contractors at the Kibby Mountain Wind Farm Project. Important safety topics were covered, and a stretching regimen was conducted. I counted more than 200 people in the group. I didn’t know everyone’s name, but I knew that most were from Maine and New Hampshire. I was proud to be a part of such a large-scale project involving so many different aspects of construction.

Even more amazing was that a foreign company was willing to invest such a large sum in Maine. TransCanada could have built their turbines anywhere from British Columbia to Labrador, but they chose a little-known tract of land in western Maine. Probably they knew of New Englanders’ work ethic and willingness to work long hours in adverse conditions. Or maybe they knew Maine was friendly to wind development because of the money and industry it brings in.

For 200 workers and their families, this job meant money in the bank and food on the table.

Wind power has benefited my family. I have been able to work and stay in Maine and not chase work out of state. I have gained valuable experience in the construction and engineering industry, which will benefit my company and my bank account.

My career in the wind industry started in 2006 at the Mars Hill wind project. Since then I have been on four other wind projects, and the company I work for has done six. By working on these large-scale projects, I have gained valuable skills in surveying and engineering design as well as experience in the energy-production field.

Building jobs on mountaintops also offers numerous challenges and demands. Foremost, you learn how to treat the environment with the respect it deserves. An anti-erosion culture has been formed at our company while building these wind power sites. We are watched by the Department of Environmental Protection and the Land Use Regulation Commission and project land abutters and follow complicated environmental contract obligations. When workers on our sites notice an environmental issue, it is immediately dealt with and reported to the proper authorities.

Our project team recently built an expansive mountaintop roadway a mile from a pristine western Maine lake, and we had no “cloudy water” in that lake after a 2-inch rain event.

For the company I work at, Sargent Corp. of Stillwater, wind power has meant turning several potentially bleak-looking years into good ones despite drops in the economy and state funding. The company has been able to keep a largely seasonal work force employed much longer during the year, and keep up to date with equipment upgrades and natural resource purchases. Our employees can attest to this by examples of raises, bonuses, 401(k) matches and other benefits they received. All 400 people in our company benefited from wind power projects.

The same goes for many other employers from our great state. Cianbro, Reed & Reed, James Sewall Co., Maine Drilling & Blasting, SGC Engineering, Larkin Enterprises, MAM utility group and other businesses from the Stratton Plaza in Eustis, Ellis Pond Variety in Roxbury and Cowger’s Camps in Danforth have all greatly benefited from wind power in Maine. It is hard to think of another industry in the last decade that has had such a positive economic impact on our state.

For Maine, wind power means more jobs, more income and a chance to be an industrial leader and major player in the New England energy market. Maine has major potential for wind on land and at sea, with ideal wind tower component manufacturing sites: Cianbro’s new manufacturing facility in Brewer and the former Loring and Brunswick military bases.

There is no doubt that Maine is exceptionally beautiful. However, our state is not a swimsuit model. We cannot make money and support ourselves on looks alone. Maine needs investment in industry and business to survive. Otherwise, our state will continue spending more than it brings in. Wind power is a clean way of producing power and a solid investment in Maine’s future.

Glenn Adams of Oakland is a field engineer for Sargent Corp. of Stillwater.

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