Posted by Julie L'Heureux
Speaker Matt Kearns was introduced by David Ertz. The two are colleagues who first met in 2009, when they were with First Wind Energy. Matt expressed admiration for the Rotarians who are volunteering to support community and international service projects.
Currently, Matt is the Chief Project Development Director for Longroad Energy Partners and works in Portland for the Boston headquartered company. He also serves on the Maine Audubon's Advisory Board of Directors and is a Corporator for the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Maine. Matt believes the future of renewable energy is "now," because there is a shared vision from the community to support efforts that promote what is right for the environment.
Longroad Energy was founded in 2016, by the former founder of First Wind Energy and the team of First Wind. The Longroad team has a proven track record of developing, constructing and operating wind and solar projects in the Northeast. Renewable energy in Maine is experiencing growth as a result of the changes in the state government's administration and the falling prices. Solar and wind power are pushing electricity prices down in New England.
Governor Mills signed renewable energy and climate change bills that will help to achieve the goals of 80 percent renewable energy by 2030, and emissions reductions of 80 percent by 2050. Check the legislation in LD 1711, passed in Maine and signed into law in 2019, "An Act To Promote Solar Energy Projects and Distributed Generation Resources in Maine.”
Access to solar power is coming with solar companies moving into Maine. Although solar power was once expensive and mostly focused on residential projects (e.g. solar hot water heaters), the technology is now efficiently providing higher production and lower costs. Demand for solar power is creating opportunities to develop large scale projects. What's needed are more electricians in Maine. A partnership between Longroad and Unity College in Waldo County, for educating environmental professionals, will be the first of its kind in Maine. This partnership will provide the college with educational and training opportunities while the reciprocal benefits will be to support the workforce through other programs, like culinary arts.
Protecting wildlife is important to Longroad. “We want to be as protective as we can of the habitat for migrating wildlife, birds and bats,” Matt said. Natural gas has a role in renewable energy development because the technologies must "have a mix.” Longroad has overcome years of challenges, but a sizable capital investment from The New Zealand Superannuation Fund has positioned the company for long term fiscal sustainability.
(Photo L-R: Matt Kearns and Gracie Johnston.)