"We were there to support the public education process that is necessary in order for Maine citizens to understand the wind industry and its benefits." That's how Cianbro's Business Development Director Parker Hadlock describes the company's role in this month's Maine Wind Energy Conference sponsored by Governor John Baldacci. The day-long event was held at the Augusta Civic Center, and gave a baseline understanding of the industry to hundreds of interested people.
Hadlock says that the State, and Cianbro in particular, are well equipped to satisfy the needs of onshore wind power and of the fledgling offshore wind power industry. Referring to recent fact-finding trips to Europe by himself, Ernie Kilbride, and Peter Cianchette, Parker told the crowd at the Civic Center that the simple message from the Europeans is that Europe has made a key decision about wind power: that short-term costs are not as important to the public as long-term benefits. Those benefits, in the European view, include energy security and controlling climate change.
"Offshore wind energy is not economically competitive with coal at the moment," says Hadlock. "But with energy costs expected to continue an upward spiral in the future, and because of the long deployment period for offshore wind, it's essential that Maine start to develop the infrastructure now."
Recent advancements in the new offshore technology could be deployed as early as 2011 as the result of a consortium of wind energy advocates that includes Cianbro, the University of Maine, and other industrial partners. Key players expressed enthusiasm for these future developments during presentations at the Conference.