It’s all about building relationships and forming a partnership, that’s the hope behind a $20,000 donation from NextEra Energy Resources.
By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
NextEra, the company building the wind farms in Hettinger and Stark counties, gave two checks of $10,000 each to the New England Ambulance Service and the New England Volunteer Fire Department on March 22. Melissa Hochmuth, Project Director with NextEra Energy Resources, spoke with the crowd at the event and said this was “really an opportunity for us to partner with you [Ambulance and Fire Departments].”
“We know that both the ambulance service and the fire department are working on couple different projects,” Hochmuth said. “And so what we wanted to do is kind of begin this relationship by providing a donation to you all to support the service work that you do.”
Members of both the ambulance crew and the fire department were on hand at the New England Emergency Services Center to accept the donation checks.
Hochmuth said this is common practice with each community they work within. She said that it’s the people and the towns that really allow their company into their area, so they want to make sure that they are ‘being good neighbors.’
Hochmuth knows that the ambulance service and fire department play vital roles in the community, so they want to make sure that they can build that partnership early on in the process.
This isn’t the first donation the company has made in the area, and Hochmuth indicated it probably won’t be the last.
“We don’t just select one organization,” Hochmuth said. “We actually look for opportunities to donate to all sorts of organizations.”
Prior to the emergency services donation, NextEra has given to the 4-H Club, Girls Scouts, and the Lions Club.
“We like to partner with all aspects of organizations in the community, to support them and support our projects,” she said.
This is really a sign of good will, the project in Hettinger County—Brady Wind II—has not even been approved yet.
“Part of our effort to build a successful project starts right, early in the development phase,” Hochmuth said. “We want to let our land owners, and county, and the community know that we are a company of our word, and that we want to support the organizations, and the land owners and support the services that support our area.”
The funds already have a purpose, according to representatives from both the ambulance and fire departments.
Twig Zahn, with the fire department, said that they have been working on upgrading some of their equipment.
“We’ve got a project going right now to upgrade our tanker trucks, and that’s where this contribution will help out a lot,” Zahn said.
Tom Zahn, with the ambulance service, indicated that because some of their grant money is no longer available, the money will go to supporting their one full-time employee.
“We’re going to be using it to fund our permanent employee,” Tom Zahn said. “We’ve been funding him totally off of grants, and the grants have all but dried up.”
Hochmuth said the project, if approved, would most likely begin sometime this summer. The Brady Wind II will feature 72 GE turbines, have a maximum capacity of up to 150 megawatts and stand 80 meters tall from the ground to the hub in the center of the blades.
Estimated tax benefits for the county over the first 30 years of the project is over $20 million. The project will also generate between six and 10 full-time operation jobs.