First Wind building 17 MW of solar power after UMass deal

First Wind said Sept. 30 that it has started construction of 17 MW (AC) of solar power at two different locations in its home state of Massachusetts.

First Wind is breaking ground after it recently secured financing and reached a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with the University of Massachusetts (UMass), as well as net metering agreements with the towns of Millbury and Orange.

First Wind’s solar project portfolio in Massachusetts will include a 3 MW (AC) project in Millbury and a 14 MW (AC) project at three sites in the town of Warren. The combined Warren projects will comprise the second-largest solar project in Massachusetts. Construction will create roughly 85 construction-related jobs

The project represents the company’s first set of renewable energy projects in its home state and its first solar development, First Wind said in a statement.

The majority of the power generated from the four projects will be delivered to the Lowell and Medical Center campuses of UMass via a long-term PPA. Through these solar projects, UMass will save more than $1m in annual energy costs or a total of more than $30m over the course of the 30-year agreement.

The deal is part of a larger UMass initiative to cut energy costs and reduce its carbon footprint, and it also supports the Commonwealth’s ambitious solar energy goals. After reaching the state’s goal four years early of 250 MW of solar energy installed in May 2013, Gov. Patrick recently announced a new goal of 1,600 MW of solar power by 2020.

In addition to UMass, the towns of Millbury and Orange have agreed to purchase a smaller portion of the energy generated by the projects.

“We are also very pleased to partner with UMass to deliver clean, renewable solar power to their campuses while delivering genuine economic benefits to the host communities and cost-competitive clean, renewable energy for years to come,” said First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor.

First Wind has developed and currently operates power projects in six states, according to the company website.

In June 2012, First Wind and Emera ((TSX: EMA) announced today the closing of their transaction to jointly own and operate wind energy projects in the Northeast U.S. through a new company called Northeast Wind Partners.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.