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How wind power changed my life

I grew up in the woods of Maine and to this day do everything in my power to spend as much time out there as I can. I am a wetland and soil scientist by training and profession and have spent nearly five years working on wind power projects in the Northeast.

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Projects like these reinforce the difference we all make 

Conducting environmental assessments of wind farm projects sheds light, for me, on the real impact of our work on local communities.

The first project I got tossed into was one of the first grid-scale developments proposed in the Northeast. While at that site, I got a phone call that triggered the beginning of an internal transition that has continued to shape who I am today. We had been awarded the resource delineation for a new wind project in northeastern Maine. I pulled out the trusty Delorme and took a look at the ridgeline. Looked like a pretty good spot. As I rampaged around the kitchen of the cabin we were staying in—telling everyone this was going to be big—I had no idea how right I would be.

Through the months that followed, we lived and worked in the community of Lincoln, Maine. We were on a first name basis with many of the service providers who had to handle our presence. Listening to the local country station became commonplace—I think even our wardrobe changed. We built relationships and brought business to a community that really needed it. We even went into the local pool hall. (OK, only twice over the course of a few years. Hey, even we aren’t that tough.)

I started to see the benefits of this project on the local community as it moved to construction: it provided local jobs, used the service industries, even gave the old folks in the rocking chairs something to talk about. This really grabbed me. I began to work on more of these projects. Now seeing the final results, I take tremendous pride looking at those turbines along that ridgeline. I mean, we sacrificed a lot of sanity to get that project to completion.

As the project progressed I was amazed at ultimately how little landscape was changed. These projects fit harmoniously and produce power in the cleanest fashion I can imagine. Revisiting the final project was really an amazing experience and made me feel like I was contributing a small piece of moving toward the proverbial greater good.

But more importantly than personal pride or company pride, these projects represent something bigger and more exciting to me, and that is the independent spirit of America. It is a can-do attitude; it is not giving up; it is hard work and overcoming adversity. This industry has made me feel as though I am a part of the next great generation building on these ideals to give my children a more secure and stable place to call home. There is nothing worth more than that. It is easy to work so hard for a cause you believe in.

Authored by Dale Knapp

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