BRUNSWICK, Maine — Businesses and other tenants operating at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station relied fully on renewable power on Aug. 1 after redevelopment officials signed an agreement to provide 100 percent green energy — at a lower-than-market rate — to Brunswick Landing.
The 12-month contract with Constellation NewEnergy, via the consortium Maine PowerOptions, supplies “Green-e Energy Certified electricity,” generated by wind facilities throughout the continental United States, to Brunswick Landing, according to executive director Steve Levesque of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the entity overseeing redevelopment of the former Navy base.
The electricity is also cheaper, with customers at Brunswick landing slated to see nearly 60 percent savings in their power bill.
After the U.S. Navy transferred ownership of electrical poles and lines on the former base to the MRRA in September 2011, the MRRA joined the energy-purchasing consortium Maine PowerOptions in December 2011, allowing it to join other organizations in purchasing electricity, and fuel oil, in bulk at a lower cost.
The redevelopment authority now acts its own utility, delivering electricity to its tenants and billing them through their leases, Levesque said.
That power is also cheaper than the standard offer, with tenants paying approximately 8 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s about 60 percent cheaper than the 13 cents per kWh paid by business customers using larger equipment who use the standard offer from Central Maine Power, according to figures provided by CMP spokesman John Carroll.
“Because we’re able to aggregate the power and buy such a large amount, we can pass that savings on to our tenants,” Levesque said.
Current and prospective tenants are eager to power their facilities with green energy — especially if adhering to that philosophy comes at a lower price, he added.
For Oxford Networks Data Center, a “high-volume user of power” that provides high-security data products for the private sector at the former Navy base, the potential cost savings is appealing as it looks to expand the facility, said Mike Tompkins, executive vice president for operations.
Currently Oxford Networks’ Brunswick facility is powered by a 1 megawatt feed, although it currently only uses a fraction of that. But Tompkins said, “I suspect that in pretty short order, our power needs will outstrip the 1 megawatt and we’ll go back to MRRA” to ask for more.
Tompkins said he’s not exactly sure how much Oxford has saved so far in electricity costs. Still, he noted that at the volume of power the company uses, any savings is valuable.
Officials at Kestrel Aircraft Company, which will build molds at Brunswick Landing for the company’s new single-engine turboprop plane, also expect to benefit from the new agreement.
The company just installed a large oven to manufacture composite parts that will consume a significant amount of energy, said Adrian Norris, director of business development for the company.
Although both electricity and gas power the oven, Norris said energy is a significant cost, and any savings that can be realized are welcome. And powering the oven partly through green electricity aligns with Kestrel’s philosophy, he said, since “One of the design goals of the Kestrel aircraft is to have one of the lowest fuel emissions.”
Oxford is also “very excited” about green electricity, Tompkins said, and supports “anything we can do to contribute and buy green power.”