The two Maine wind projects selected will provide more than 330 MW of cost-competitive energy to Massachusetts utilities and ratepayers.
First Wind, an independent U.S.-based renewable energy company, has announced that through a competitive bidding process overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, two of its planned Maine wind power projects have been selected by Massachusetts utilities to provide clean wind energy to homes and businesses across the Commonwealth. The contracts, which still must be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, will provide clean energy from the 147 MW Oakfield Wind project in Aroostook County and the 186 MW Bingham Wind project in Somerset County.
“We are pleased that our proposed Oakfield and Bingham wind projects were selected as part of the competitively-bid process. This is a direct outcome of last year’s energy bill that is helping to bring clean, renewable energy to Massachusetts consumers more cost-effectively,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “A key component of the Green Communities Act is that it enables utilities to establish a competitive process for best possible pricing and then enter into long-term contracts to lock in low rates with renewable energy projects for the long run. Massachusetts is leading the way by bringing very cost-competitive, clean power to homes and businesses in the state, while Maine is providing regional leadership by being a key producer of clean energy.”
In May, Massachusetts utilities opened up initial bidding from renewable power generators for contracts that would last as long as 15 or 20 years. The clean energy procurement process was initiated pursuant to Section 83A of the 2012 Massachusetts energy bill, which required all of the state’s electric distribution companies solicit proposals from renewable energy developers for the purpose of entering into cost-effective long-term contracts. Projects were chosen based on a variety of factors, including cost-competitiveness for consumers.
“This is an important milestone for both of these projects, and we look forward to building on our track record of developing, building, and operating wind projects that deliver cost-competitive, clean energy,” Gaynor added.
The energy from the Oakfield Wind project, which received siting approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in January 2012, is contracted to be sold to Massachusetts customers of four utilities as part of a 15-year contract. The Oakfield project will be a 48-turbine, 147 MW capacity project. Construction of the Oakfield project is scheduled to start by the end of this year and should be completed and online in 2015.
The planned Bingham Wind project would feature 62 turbines totaling 186 MW of energy capacity. Massachusetts utilities have agreed to purchase the power as part of a 15-year contract. The Bingham project is in the advanced permitting stages with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Both projects are expected to qualify for federal investment tax credits.
The two projects would be the sixth and seventh First Wind projects in Maine. The most recently completed project, the Bull Hill Wind project near Eastbrook, Maine in Hancock County, provides cost-competitive power to NSTAR.