June 19, 2018
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Frankfort wind developers: Mount Waldo right site

By Jack Kenworthy and Travis Bullard, Special to the BDN

Eolian Renewable Energy is a local New England company owned and managed by four partners, two of whom live here in Maine. Our management team combines over three decades of experience in clean energy, real estate, construction management and resource analysis.

Eolian was formed to build clean energy projects in the best locations because we believe in taking action to improve energy security and to combat climate change and the other environmental degradation caused by conventional energy extraction and use.

We also believe in supporting healthy economic development in New England communities — including Frankfort. Eolian is developing four projects in three states and investing millions of dollars in project development toward a prosperous, more healthful future. We employ and partner with the most respected and experienced teams in the industry to ensure successful project outcomes and we stand by our commitments.

Our emphasis is on careful site selection, appropriate project sizes and early, frequent community engagement. Recognizing that it is impossible to generate electricity — the electricity that all Maine residents demand every day — with no impacts, we focus on developing sites where new impacts can be minimized.

Mount Waldo, the site of our Waldo Community Wind project, is an excellent place for a wind power development. The wind resource is outstanding — the best in Waldo County.

There are three existing communication towers — each several hundred feet tall with red blinking lights, as well as road and power lines to the summit. The private landowners that lease their property for Waldo Community Wind own enough land to make sure turbines are sited far from residences.

This distance protects the public health safety and welfare and meets all necessary standards for the safe construction and operation of a small wind farm.

A new wind project on Mount Waldo would provide at least the equivalent of 5,000 homes worth of clean, domestic electricity each year while impacting only a very small area of land on a site with many existing impacts. It would bring substantial new tax revenue to Frankfort without costing the town any money to host the project. And it would allow the landowners on Mount Waldo to earn revenue from their private land that they have been paying taxes on for generations.

The mountain can remain open for the public to use as it has been for decades.

Since Eolian became involved in Frankfort about nine months ago, we have attended dozens of public meetings, presented detailed information about our project plans and provided extensive access to our team of experts to answer questions. We have opened an office in town and held many meetings of our own with an open door to anyone in town with an interest in learning more.

We have always welcomed, and still do, civil discourse in open forums based on the facts.

Despite the fact that no local permits would have been required for our project, we chose to engage the residents instead of going straight to the state for permits. Recently we have spent hundreds of hours going door-to-door all across town to understand concerns and communicate openly about our project.

We have been pleased to find that there is a great deal of support for our project plans, including in areas close to and with direct views of the project site. We have developed extensive relationships with Frankfort residents based on communication, respect and trust. This is the foundation of real progress.

The Mount Waldo site is very well suited for wind energy. If developed, this project would bring substantial clean energy and economic development benefits to Frankfort and Maine.

We stand by our efforts at creating an open public process and are always open to reasonable regulations.

Unfortunately, the ordinance drafted by the self-appointed review committee would, if approved, do exactly what it was designed and intended to do — prevent wind power. That is the issue before the town of Frankfort on Dec. 1 and we hope that residents will vote accordingly.

Jack Kenworthy is chief executive officer of Eolian Renewable Energy. Travis Bullard is senior development manager and has been working on permitting the Waldo Community Wind project from the Frankfort office.

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