First Wind, an independent U.S.-based wind energy company, today announced that construction of its 34 megawatt (MW) Bull Hill Wind project has been completed and commercial operations have begun. Located on the ridges of Bull Hill and Heifer Hill in Hancock County, Maine, the project features 19 1.8 MW wind turbines that have the capacity to generate enough clean energy to power nearly 18,000 homes.
“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 Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “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.”
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.
The cost-competitive clean electricity generated by the Bull Hill Wind project will be sold to NSTAR under a long-term power purchase agreement, which First Wind won in a competitive solicitation by NSTAR as they were seeking a low cost source of energy. In August of 2011, NSTAR and First Wind entered into a 15-year fixed-price contract for the output from the project. The cost savings due to the fixed-price contract are 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.”
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, a heavy construction firm based in Woolwich. “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.”
Members of a local ATV club have been highly supportive of the project and are excited to see the project online.
“First Wind is a new member of our community and we couldn’t be happier,” said Maurice Sargent, president of the Acadia Area ATV’ers in Ellsworth. “They worked with us during construction to ensure our ATV trail network maintained connectivity. They became a business member and have given full support to the entire outdoor community.”
As part of its community support, First Wind is making a contribution for the protection of watersheds in Hancock County.
“We’re supportive of the Bull Hill Project and interested in seeing more renewable energy because it leads to cleaner air and cleaner water,” said Dwayne Shaw, Executive Director of the Downeast Salmon Federation. “The contribution this project is providing will help us with our efforts to preserve and restore Atlantic salmon and wild brook trout in the area.”
The project features 19 Vestas V100-1.8 MW turbines.
“We are thrilled to work with First Wind to finish another clean-energy project in Maine,” said Christian Venderby, Chief Operating Officer for Vestas in North America. “Bull Hill is one of nine projects this year in the United States and Canada using our V100-1.8 MW turbine. These turbines will provide predictable and pollution-free power for many years.”
In addition to its Bull Hill project, First Wind has four other operational wind projects in Maine including the 42 MW Mars Hill Wind project in Aroostook County, the 60 MW Rollins Wind project in Penobscot County, and the 57 MW Stetson Wind and the 26 MW Stetson Wind II projects, both located in Washington County. When combined with the Bull Hill Wind project, these five facilities have capacity to generate 219 MW, enough to supply clean power for the equivalent of more than 95,000 households. Over $160 million in direct spending has been invested into Maine-based companies during the development and construction of these five projects. First Wind has invested another $600 million in wind projects in Maine.