Brunswick base redevelopers get $200K to study renewable energy center

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BRUNSWICK — The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded a $200,000 grant to the Brunswick Naval Air Station redevelopment agency to help fund a feasibility study for a renewable energy park.

The energy park has been discussed by the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority and included in the base’s master reuse plan. Steve Levesque, MRRA’s executive director, has said in the past that he hopes the energy center would create not just renewable power at the base, but provide research and develop for other technologies such as wind and solar power.

The grant will be administered by the Economic Development Administration, a division of the Commerce Department created to provide financial assistance to economically distressed communities. BNAS is scheduled to close in 2011, but the U.S. Navy is expected to vacate the facility by the end of this year.

“The Economic Development Administration is pleased to partner with the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority to improve the regional economic climate,” Sandra R. Walters, EDA chief financial officer/chief administrative officer, said in an Aug. 27 press release. “This EDA grant will advance collaboration in the renewable energy sources sector and help build a renewable energy technology cluster in Midcoast Maine.”

The grant was lauded by Maine Republican U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who issued a joint release on the same day as the ceremonial departure of the penultimate P-3 Orion squadron from BNAS.

“With this funding, (MRRA) can explore the potential of establishing an energy cluster development site that will aim to bolster technological innovation and job creation and help bring Maine to the forefront of national and global commerce,” the senators said.

If created, the renewable energy park would be located in the Business and Technologies zoning district of the reuse plan. The district contains three separate areas located just east of the runways.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or