First Wind, an independent U.S.-based renewable energy company, was joined at a ground-breaking ceremony by community and industry leaders to commemorate construction of the company’s 148 MW Oakfield Wind project in Aroostook County, Maine.
Situated about 2.5 miles from the center of the town of Oakfield, the Oakfield Wind project will be constructed on the low-lying ridges of the Oakfield Hills, and will utilize pre-existing commercial logging roads and infrastructure. Work on the 148 MW wind project will include the installation of 48 Vestas V-112 turbines and will create about 300 direct, full-time jobs during construction. It is expected to reach commercial operations by the end of 2015.
“The Oakfield project has been something we’ve wanted to build for almost a decade,” says Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “We appreciate the long-term support from the community leaders and residents of Oakfield and Aroostook County, and we are looking forward to continuing our commitment to Maine’s clean energy economy.”
Representing First Wind’s sixth project in Maine and the company’s largest in New England, the Oakfield Wind project will provide $27 million in tax and community benefit payments to the town of Oakfield and the surrounding community over the next 20 years. Earlier this year, First Wind made the first community payment in the amount of $600,000 as part of the community benefit agreement. The clean cost-competitive power that will be generated by the project is contracted to be sold to four Massachusetts utilities as part of a 15-year contract, and will generate enough clean energy at cost-competitive rates to power the equivalent of about 50,000 New England homes.
“The Town of Oakfield has already experienced first-hand the economic benefits this project brings to Aroostook County,” says Dale Morris, Oakfield Town Manager. “Nearly 90% of the funds from First Wind’s first community payment were used for tax relief for town residents, and the town will soon be investing property tax dollars into the community’s infrastructure – new road work, a new fire station, and other capital improvements.”
The financing package for the combined wind farm and generator lead, with a total construction cost of approximately $369 million, includes a $237 million construction loan and $132 million of equity contribution. KeyBank National Association served as the joint lead arranger and administrative agent on the construction loan.
Once complete, the Oakfield Wind project will increase the total capital expenditures made by First Wind for wind projects sited in Maine to over $1 billion. The company currently has five operational wind projects in Maine including the 42 MW Mars Hill Wind project in Aroostook County, the 83 MW Stetson Wind I and II projects in Washington County, the 60 MW Rollins Wind project in Penobscot County, and the 34 MW Bull Hill Wind project in Hancock County. These combined facilities have a 219 MW capacity, enough to supply clean power for the equivalent of more than 90,000 households every year.
First Wind also has three wind projects in advanced development including the 51 MW Hancock Wind project in Hancock County, the 48 MW Bowers Wind project in Penobscot and Washington Counties, and the 186 MW Bingham Wind project in Somerset County.