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Patriot Renewables LLC: Clean Energy is American Energy
Patriot Renewables LLC (PRL) is one of the most active wind turbine development companies in New England. In just six years the Quincy, Mass.-based company has put two projects online, has one under construction, and has three more in the development pipeline. Building a wind turbine project certainly has its hurdles and PRL takes pride in establishing relationships with the local communities where it builds and keeping communication lines open to increase awareness. For each and every project, PRL acts as developer, owner and operator so local communities have a singular point of contact throughout the process.
“We focus on small- to mid-sized commercial-scale wind turbine projects, but our advantage in the market is that we have the resources and expertise of a general contracting company with heavy civil contracting specialties,” asserts Todd Presson, COO of PRL. PRL is an affiliate company of Jay Cashman Inc. (JCI), one of the East Coast’s premier heavy civil and marine construction companies. Bolstered with extra expertise and in-house muscle, PRL manages to keep construction costs down to facilitate the financial viability of wind energy projects.
Bitten by the Bug
PRL might not have even happened if not for the entrepreneurial spirit of Jay Cashman, who identified a critical opportunity for green energy growth in early 2003. At the time Cashman was writing proposals for Cape Wind, a large-scale wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod. Opponents ultimately delayed the project, but it has the potential to supply an estimated 75 percent of the electricity demand of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island. “Basically, Jay was bitten by the wind turbine bug,” jokes Presson, who holds a decade of experience in renewable energy and energy conservation projects. Instead of abandoning the idea altogether, Cashman and Presson refocused their efforts on onshore projects to lead the charge towards sustainably produced electricity in the Northeast.
Today, PRL handles all of the development and planning stages of all of the company’s wind projects and hands off the blueprints to JCI to complete with the help of strategic partners. So far the firm has had early successes in Maine and it is actively looking for additional opportunities in the Northeast. The two commercial wind turbine farms PRL has invested in to date are both located in Maine (the first one being Beaver Ridge Wind – a 4.5 megawatt facility operating in Freedom, Maine; the second being the 20-megawatt Spruce Mountain Wind project, which is nearing commercial operation in Woodstock, Maine), and the firm has plans to develop more in the future (in Carthage, Canton and Dixfield, Maine).
“We have explored project development in Massachusetts and other New England states, but securing the necessary land rights has been challenging,” says Presson. However, PRL is not discouraged and continues to explore development of projects that can be both financially sound and a benefit to the local communities they serve.
Currently, PRL’s primary focus is the finalization of its Spruce Mountain Wind project. At commercial operation, which is expected later this year, the project will provide 20 megawatts of electricity from 10 Gamesa G90 turbines. The project will supply enough clean energy to power an estimated 9,600 homes, and in the process PRL will also ensure that 1,000 acres of surrounding land will be put towards conservation purposes for public recreational use. The project will also provide tax income to the town of Woodstock and will pay for transmission upgrades required by Central Maine Power.
Of course, there are opponents of wind turbine projects, both onshore and offshore, and Presson doesn’t expect them to disappear any time soon. “Every project has some opponents and our strategy is to work with the communities and provide them with as much information as possible,” he explains. PRL takes a two-sided approach and disseminates information through both traditional and digital methods. On the one hand, PRL uses facility tours and flyers to keep local residents in the loop. Simultaneously, PRL’s team updates its Facebook page and project websites to keep residents informed with up-to-date progress reports and newsletters.
When all is said and done, Presson asserts that there is no better feeling than seeing the turbines go online. “If a project gets built, it means they’re viable and they will generate electricity for 20 to 25 years without any pollution or any reliance on foreign oil,” he reflects. After all the due diligence, engineering, negotiating and construction, it is rewarding to see a project come to life. There will probably always be a small, but vocal minority who oppose projects, but Presson and the PRL team will continue to push for responsibly developed clean electricity and to engage both supporters and opponents of their projects.
Already the PRL team has three more projects on the books in various stages of development and the future looks bright for the company. Americans nationwide are demanding renewable sources for electricity, especially in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and the 2011 Japanese Tsunami, so the cards are stacked in favor of responsible, financially sound alternative energy projects. By the time Patriot Renewables LLC’s 10th anniversary rolls around in 2016, Presson, Cashman, and the team are sure to have much to celebrate.