A Frankfort native with extensive experience in the energy industry gained an appointment to the Frankfort Plant Board at Monday's Frankfort City Commission meeting.
Jason Delambre was voted onto the board in a 4-1 city commission vote to begin a four-year term; he replaces current board director Dawn Hale. Delambre is the co-founder and director of Carbon and Energy Policy at Midwest Clean Energy Enterprise in Frankfort. He has also previously been involved in attracting businesses like Goodwood Brewery to the downtown area.
Hale — former head of the nonprofit Sunshine Center and longtime public servant on local boards and commissions, including a brief appointed stint on the Frankfort City Commission — served on FPB’s board of directors since 2017. Hale's term expired on Sep. 23.
As a public agency, FPB’s $102 million budget dwarfs both the City of Frankfort and Franklin County’s budgets. Most of the county uses the municipal utility’s electricity, water and other utility services.
Appointments to the FPB’s board of directors are brought to the commission by the mayor and need to be approved by a majority vote of the five-person body.
In an interview with The State Journal, Delambre said that he’s honored to have been selected by Mayor Layne Wilkerson for a spot on the board.
“For someone in my career, a position like this where you can bring your professional knowledge fully to bear to help the community at such a high level is a huge honor,” Delambre said. “I told him (Wilkerson) that if I get voted in tonight, I will give it my all to hold up that position and to do what has to be done from our point of view and experience to help the community move forward.”
Prior to relocating in Frankfort, Delambre helped work energy projects around the world and nation, including a stint as project manager on an analysis of the carbon footprint for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.
His resume states that he has helped clients win more than $8 million in grant funds, has worked more than 345 projects and has audited more than 18 million square feet of space.
Delambre’s wife, Amelia Berry, serves on the Frankfort Independent School Board.
When asked about the recently forwarded large-scale solar proposal, an initiative of Andy McDonald and former FPB Vice Chair Walt Baldwin, Delambre said that he works often on solar projects but didn’t say whether he was supportive of the initiative.
Since the initial proposal earlier this year, FPB hired a consultant whose analysis criticized the plan’s feasibility. McDonald and Baldwin later countered the analysis, saying that it did not contain actual analysis that refuted any of their findings.
“I spend a lot of time helping clients think through solar for their businesses,” Delambre said. “I also spend a lot of time advising clients that maybe they shouldn't go solar.”
He said that the plant board needed to “move forward cautiously” on the topic.
“When you're talking capital investment for utilities, these are 20- and 30-year decisions, so you should not be making these decisions rashly,” Delambre said. “But we should be moving forward, keeping abreast of the technologies and abreast of what the market has to offer so that we can keep rates as steady as they've been traditionally with plant board, and also make sure that we’re in line with the community in what they are looking for, from their utility.”
Delambre stressed that his approach would be “prudent” and take a general “slow, steady march” toward implementing more green energy.
Overall, though, he emphasized that he sees a spot on the FPB as a way to help the community where he was raised thrive.
Two other appointments — Jen Oberlin and Nicole Konkol's reappointment to the Architectural Review Board (ARB) — were also approved.
Current Board Chair John Cubine's term on the board is set to expire next September. Kathryn Dutton-Mitchell and John Snyder's terms both expire in Sep. 2023, while Steve Mason's term is set to end in Sep. 2024.