First Wind breaks ground on Maine wind power project

First Wind, a U.S.-based renewable energy company, began construction of the company’s 148 MW Oakfield Wind project in Aroostook County, Maine.

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.

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.

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 use pre-existing commercial logging roads and infrastructure. Work on the 148 MW wind project will include the installation of 48 Vestas V-112 wind 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 financing package for the combined wind farm and generator lead, with a total construction cost of about $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.

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