First Wind, Iberdrola, Exergy land contracts with Mass. utilities

27 September 2013 by Carl Levesque Carl Levesque

Wind farm developers First Wind, Iberdrola Renewables, and Exergy Development will provide wind-generated electricity to Massachusetts utilities under power purchase agreements announced this week.

Last week it was Connecticut, tapping affordable wind energy produced by EDP Renewables North America. This week, it’s Massachusetts going down the same prudent road.

One business day after last Friday’s announcement of renewable energy contracts in Connecticut, neighbor Massachusetts made a splash on Monday with news that the state’s largest utilities have signed power purchase agreements with a total of six wind farms from the three developers. Once again, the prices for the wind-generated electricity will come at prices that are highly competitive with the cost of other generation sources.

Contracts signed by National Grid, Unitil and Northeast Utilities comprise wind power megawatts totaling over 500 MW. The projects providing the energy include

 ·      Iberdrola Renewables’ Wild Meadows wind farm in New Hampshire (75.9 MW)
·      Iberdrola Renewables’ Fletcher Mountain project in Maine (97.1 MW)
·      First Wind’s Oakfield Wind facility in Maine (147.6 MW)
·      First Wind’s Bingham Wind project in Maine (186 MW)
·      Exergy’s Passamaquoddy Wind facility in Maine (38.2 MW), and
·      Exergy’s Peskotmuhkati Wind project in Maine (20 MW).

One interesting aspect of the two Exergy projects, both of which are in Washington County, is that they are both located on the Passamaquoddy Reservation, creating a beneficial partnership between the Native American tribe and the company.

On the previous Friday, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced long-term contracts for his state’s two major electric distribution companies to purchase a combined 270 MW of renewable energy.

AWEA said it’s encouraged by the two announcements, which will result in the delivery of clean, low-cost electricity to Northeastern residents.

The two states’ actions will drive development of an additional 815 MW of wind energy—enough to power the equivalent of over 305,000 homes—in New England. “Contracts for wind power are an important part of a diverse energy portfolio for these states and the region. They keep costs down today and help avoid pollution and future rate increases because wind turbines need no fuel,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan in a statement. “We’re doing our part to fulfill the national commitment to reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change that threatens us all.”

The announcements are significant and considered an important regional step because the Northeast historically has moved at a slower pace than some other regions to tap wind power’s benefits. Other parts of the country have taken advantage of the economies of scale of larger wind projects. Furthermore, many of the states in the Northeast have Renewable Portfolio Standards or other policies in place encouraging power providers to use cleaner forms of energy like wind, which creates no emissions, uses no water and can be contracted over longer periods of time at a set price, acting as a hedge against the more volatile prices of other forms of energy.

Said Francis Pullaro, Executive Director of Renewable Energy New England, “These renewable energy procurements represent a significant step in transforming New England’s generation fleet over to clean, cost-effective resources that allow our region to invest in its local economy rather than send millions of dollars to other states and countries for fossil fuels.”

Including the federal Production Tax Credit for wind projects on which construction is started by the end of 2013, the law will benefit consumers by attracting private investment and lowering the cost of access to renewable supplies of electric power.

Photo credit: David K. Clarke