Wind power is fast becoming a fundamental part of the new energy mix in New England.

As with our outdoor tourism in beautiful landscapes, fresh lobsters, agriculture, forestry, and arts and crafts, most people would think that this state would be embracing this clean, fuel-less energy as part of the Made in Maine brand.

During the recent legislative session, however, wind power was intensely scrutinized by the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, which debated and heard public comment on a number of bills — mostly aimed at hobbling the development of this renewable resource that is creating jobs, making us more energy independent, and is environmentally preferable to sources of energy they replace.

In the end, all but one of these bills was rejected unanimously. The lone surviving bill, L.D. 1366, passed out of committee with the support of every member except one. L.D. 1366, which is now law, was crafted as a compromise that aims to review the facts about issues like health and safety, wildlife, property values, and the benefits of wind energy.

Beaver Ridge Wind in Freedom, one of the earliest projects in Maine, is a three-turbine, 4.5-megawatt wind project operated by Patriot Renewables.

The project went through a difficult development process, and it was not welcomed by all residents. Since construction in 2008, Beaver Ridge Wind has worked to be a good neighbor by making substantial efforts to accommodate the small number of concerns put forth by a few residents in the Beaver Ridge neighborhood.

Today, Beaver Ridge Wind is producing clean, renewable energy and takes pride in the work being done on wind power throughout the state.

Wind projects generally provide an economic stimulus to many industries.

Maine has benefitted from significant job creation since 2003, resulting in about $223 million in local spending. These projects have helped boost the economies of rural areas during the national recession.

The Mars Hill wind project lowered property taxes by 20 percent. Of the $65 million construction budget at Stetson Mountain, outside Danforth, $50 million went directly to more than 100 Maine companies.

This economic boost comes with little impact to the environment, a concern that is at the forefront of most Mainers minds and a scare tactic that has been used by wind opponents since its arrival.

Beaver Ridge Wind is a superb example of new business working to give back to its community. It has given money toward purchasing a firetruck for the town of Freedom and donated money to multiple clubs and groups in the community.

This company found a quality in Maine worth investing in and a community worth working for. Giving back to the community is something that great Maine businesses take part in.

Maine needs companies such as Patriot Renewables and its Beaver Ridge Wind project to move us forward into a cleaner, greener future. Wind projects leave a small carbon footprint while providing jobs, money and further investment in an otherwise stale economy.

Wind power is not the singular answer to our energy dependence problems, but it is a step in the right direction and an avenue for new business in our great state. We should all be proud to support the growing clean energy industry that is Made in Maine.

Jeremy Payne is the executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association.

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