First Wind's Bull Hill project now on line, highlights wind power's affordability

First Wind's Bull Hill project now on line, highlights wind power's affordability

First Wind has another Maine wind farm under its belt, and it’s a project that once again highlights wind power’s ability to save utility customers money.

The just-finished, 34-MW Bull Hill Wind project in Hancock County has entered commercial operations, the company announced. Bull Hill Wind features 19 Vestas V100 1.8-MW wind turbines that can generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 18,000 homes.

In August 2011, utility NSTAR and First Wind entered into a 15-year contract for the project's output following NSTAR’s competitive solicitation seeking a low-cost source of energy. The project's fixed-price contract is expected to save NSTAR ratepayers about $57 million over the life of the contract.

“The power from Bull Hill Wind is part of a diverse, responsible energy portfolio that includes renewable resources generated right here in New England,” said James Daly, vice president of energy supply at Northeast Utilities, parent company of NSTAR. “The Bull Hill project will help NSTAR meet our goal of providing renewable energy to homes and businesses as outlined by the Massachusetts Green Communities Act. We’re looking forward to delivering clean, renewable wind energy from this project to our customers for years to come.”

Now that the project has started operations, Hancock County and Eastbrook will receive an average aggregate tax payment of approximately $100,000 annually for the next 20 years and an additional $240,000 annually in community benefit payments—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 First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor. “It is a testament to our partners across the state and region, as well as supportive business, citizen and local political leaders, that we have been able to complete this project ahead of schedule. 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.”

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.

“Reed & Reed and our team of local subcontractors have worked on all of First Wind’s projects here in Maine. We are proud and pleased to see Bull Hill completed and in operation.” said Jack Parker, president and CEO of Reed & Reed. “We have seen time and time again how First Wind projects like Bull Hill positively impact the community and state. Along with the generation of clean, local energy, these projects have been among the most notable when it comes to economic development. Maine’s wind power projects have created hundreds of jobs, provided millions of dollars for important community projects, and they have directly lowered property taxes in a number of host communities. Bull Hill is an excellent example of how a project can support Maine people and local businesses.”

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Carl has been a part of the AWEA team since 2006. He brings both his expertise in communications as well as experience with the evolving wind energy industry to the job of overseeing AWEA's online and written publications including the Wind Energy Weekly, WINDPOWER Update, WINDPOWER Today, and various print materials. He has worked as a journalist in the energy industry as a staff writer for Public Utilities Fortnightly magazine and in the association sector as senior editor at Association Management magazine. He also has covered the home-building industry, where his areas of greatest interest were sustainable development and "smart growth," and has written articles for numerous other publications as a freelance writer. Carl received his B.A. from James Madison University and spent some time in New Orleans employed as a teacher as well as working with homeless youth.

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