First Wind marks commercial start of 14-MW Massachusetts solar project

First Wind on June 23 celebrated the end of construction of its 14-MW (ac) Warren Solar project and announced that commercial operations have begun.

In a ceremony that included state and community leaders, Massachusetts energy officials, and renewable energy industry representatives, the Worcester County-based project was recognized not only as joining First Wind’s 3-MW (ac) Millbury, Mass., solar project in commercial operations, but also as part of First Wind’s first solar developments and first renewable energy projects in its home state of Massachusetts.

“As Massachusetts leads the way in bringing clean energy to homes and business across the Commonwealth, we are thrilled to have partners like First Wind provide a financial boost and local benefits to the area,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett. “With this project, First Wind is contributing to our sustainable future and helping to reach Governor [Deval] Patrick’s goal of 1,600 MW installed by 2020.”

Located at three sites in the town of Warren, construction began on this project in the fall of 2013 after a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) was finalized with the University of Massachusetts (UMass).

John Baker, UMass Medical School’s associate vice chancellor for facilities noted: “Since we have limited locations where on-site solar would work, we are restricted in our ability to do a large on-site solar installation. When we learned about the virtual net metering program, we realized instantly that the financial and environmental benefits could be substantial. The UMass Medical School portion of the First Wind project will generate enough energy to power roughly 932 homes in New England annually and produce an estimated $400,000 in savings each year for the UMass Medical School. We plan to leverage that money and use it to do more energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.”

“Environmental stewardship is one of our core values and we are proud to partner with First Wind to expand the amount of clean, renewable energy available while also realizing financial benefits,” said Tom Dreyer, UMass Lowell’s associate vice chancellor for facilities. “As a public higher education institution, we also strive to promote a sustainability-conscious community.”

Borrego Solar Systems Inc. led construction of both the Warren and Millbury the projects, which created roughly 85 construction-related jobs.

The Warren and Millbury projects are the first solar projects that are part of the First Wind Solar Group, which was formed to explore potential development opportunities across the company’s current footprint in the Northeast, the West and Hawaii. In addition, First Wind Solar Group is also developing a 20-MW (ac) solar project in Mililani, Hawaii, as well as 340 MW (ac) in total across multiple project sites in Utah through PPAs with PacifiCorp d/b/a Rocky Mountain Power.

Based in Boston, First Wind is operating or building renewable energy projects in the Northeast, the West and Hawaii, with combined capacity of nearly 1,300 MW.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.