First Wind Completes Wind Project and Begins Commercial Operations

First Wind, an independent U.S.-based wind energy company, announced that construction of its 34 megawatt (MW) Bull Hill Wind project has been completed and commercial operations have begun.

The First Wind project is located on the ridges of Bull Hill and Heifer Hill in Hancock County, Maine, and features 19 1.8 MW wind turbines that have the capacity to generate enough clean energy to power nearly 18,000 homes. Now that the project has started operations, Hancock County and Eastbrook will receive an annual aggregate tax payment and community benefit payments for the next 20 years – more than $7 million in total. In addition, First Wind is providing a public safety communication tower to Hancock County for improved communications for the safety and rescue departments in the county.

“We are very pleased to complete work on our Bull Hill Wind project, which represents our fifth project in Maine to achieve commercial operations,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “The Bull Hill Wind project will serve as a source of cost-competitive renewable energy and a boost to the local economy through tax revenues and ongoing operations.”

The cost-competitive clean electricity generated by the Bull Hill Wind project will be sold to NSTAR under a long-term power purchase agreement, which First Wind won in a competitive solicitation by NSTAR as they were seeking a low cost source of energy. In August of 2011, NSTAR and First Wind entered into a 15-year fixed-price contract for the output from the project. The cost savings due to the fixed-price contract are expected to save NSTAR ratepayers about $57 million over the life of the contract.

Construction on the Bull Hill Wind project started earlier this year and created an average of 200 construction-related jobs while generating significant revenue for the surrounding communities. Maine-based contractor Reed & Reed led the construction process and hired mostly Maine-based businesses and subcontractors to work on the project. In addition, First Wind worked with its turbine supplier to ensure that the turbine shipments, including towers, blades and other equipment, went through nearby Searsport to maximize the economic benefits for the local community. As part of its community support, First Wind is making a contribution for the protection of watersheds in Hancock County.

In addition to its Bull Hill project, First Wind has four other operational wind projects in Maine including the 42 MW Mars Hill Wind project in Aroostook County, the 60 MW Rollins Wind project in Penobscot County, and the 57 MW Stetson Wind and the 26 MW Stetson Wind II projects, both located in Washington County. When combined with the Bull Hill Wind project, these five facilities have capacity to generate 219 MW, enough to supply clean power for the equivalent of more than 95,000 households. Over $160 million in direct spending has been invested into Maine-based companies during the development and construction of these five projects. First Wind has invested another $600 million in wind projects in Maine.

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