AUGUSTA

Net energy billing could allow for the owner of an apple orchard in Monmouth to partner with a school in Topsham on a wind power project that would benefit both.

The concept, going gangbusters in Massachusetts and Vermont, is underutilized in Maine. Sue Jones, president of Freeport-based Community Energy Partners (Comm- En), hopes to help change that during the Maine Agricultural Trades Show now under way at the Augusta Civic Center.

Jones will staff a Community Wind booth for all three days of the show. She also will speak of net energy billing at 3 p.m. today and 10 a.m. on both Wednesday and Thursday. She hopes that her informational booth and presentations will provide farmers, loggers and others who could benefit from wind power with a “one-stop shop.”

“My goal is to provide education about Community Wind,” Jones said Monday. “Community Wind can be anything as long as it’s locally owned.”

In 2006, Jones founded Comm-En, which is dedicated to bringing renewable energy systems to the Northeast. A lawyer, she has worked closely with the state Legislature not only on policy, but as a frequent testifier and speaker on energy issues and policies.

In today’s presentation, Jones will explain how net energy billing has the potential to combine perhaps 10 power accounts, or meters. Most of today’s focus will be on smaller-scale projects — typically involving orchards or dairy farmers of up to around 150 acres.

“Most Community Wind owners involve wood lots or farmers,” she said. “The value of wind is best where it’s windy. Typically, it’s the higher elevations, and that’s where you get into big landowners. Those people are best suited to work with wind developers.

“Apple orchards are on hillsides, for smaller development. Smaller tracts of land and lower elevations work with smaller projects.”

Prior to net energy billing, Jones said, there was little incentive for landowners to choose Community Wind.

“Now they can work with people who don’t have a wood wind resource,” she said. “A school could partner with a farmer on a green power project. It doesn’t even have to be contiguous land. It can be from far away.”

Most people in Maine, Jones said, are unaware of these possibilities. The cost of turbines range from perhaps $20,000 to millions of dollars, she said.

People interested would test their wind site and choose a turbine accordingly, she said.

“There’s lots of decisionmaking,” she said.

Jones will outline a step-bystep process from 10 a.m. until noon on Wednesday, and repeat today’s presentation on net energy billing from 10 to 11 on Thursday.

“Maine Windependence” is connected to Community Wind, which refers to any projects in which either local or partial ownership comes from within the local community. On its website, Maine Windependence points out that Maine has more wind potential than any other New England state, and much to gain by promoting and developing the resource.

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