First Wind, an independent U.S.-based renewable energy company, announced that it has closed financing for its 148 megawatt (MW) wind project in Aroostook County, Maine. With financing in place, First Wind will continue on schedule with construction with commercial operations expected in the fourth quarter of 2015. The Oakfield Wind project will create approximately 300 jobs during construction and provide $27 million in tax and community benefit payments to the town of Oakfield and the surrounding communities over the next 20 years.
“We are very pleased to close the financing for our Oakfield Wind project,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “By securing financing, we will be able to continue construction activities on our sixth wind project in Maine. We appreciate the commitment from our financial and construction partners, and we are grateful for the long-term support we have received from the residents and community leaders in the town of Oakfield. It is exciting to see this project move forward as it will deliver significant direct investment into the local economy while serving as a source of cost-competitive clean energy.”
The financing package for the combined wind farm and generator lead, with a total construction cost of approximately $369 million, includes a $237 million construction loan and $132 million of equity contribution. KeyBank National Association (NYSE:KEY) served as the joint lead arranger and administrative agent on the construction loan.
“We are very pleased to have played a leading role in First Wind’s financing of the Oakfield project,” said Andrew Redinger, managing director and head of KeyBanc Capital Markets’ Utilities, Power & Renewable Energy Group. “We applaud First Wind’s long-term dedication that brings significant investment to Maine. The financing of the Oakfield project demonstrates the solid fundamentals of the wind project that will provide an excellent source of renewable power.”
Situated about 2.5 miles from the center of the town of Oakfield, construction activities on the Oakfield project will continue with a completion and generation date predicted for the fourth quarter of 2015. Vestas will supply 48 V-112 turbines with a capacity of 3.075 MW each to the Maine project. Construction commenced in late 2013 and the Oakfield project will qualify for the federal wind energy Investment Tax Credit.
The power that will be generated by the Oakfield Wind project is contracted to be sold to customers of four Massachusetts utilities as part of a 15-year contract, and will generate enough clean energy at cost-competitive rates to power the equivalent of about 50,000 New England homes.
First proposed in 2008, the Oakfield Wind project received approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in January of 2012. In 2011, town of Oakfield residents voted 81-21 to approve the tax and community benefit agreement. Earlier this year, First Wind made its first payment to the town of Oakfield in the amount of $600,000 as part of the community benefit agreement. The project will provide $12 million in community benefit payments over the next 20 years. In addition to the community benefit payments, First Wind is also scheduled to make about $15 million in tax payments over the next 20 years. A generation line being built from the project to the electrical grid will add an additional $7 million in tax payments.
Once complete, the Oakfield Wind project will increase the total capital expenditures made by First Wind for wind projects sited in Maine to over $1.25 billion. The company currently has five operational wind projects in Maine including the 42 MW Mars Hill Wind project in Aroostook County, the 83 MW Stetson Wind I and II projects in Washington County, the 60 MW Rollins Wind project in Penobscot County, and the 34 MW Bull Hill Wind project in Hancock County. These combined facilities have a 219 MW capacity, enough to supply clean power for the equivalent of more than 90,000 households every year.
First Wind also has three wind projects in advanced development including the 51 MW Hancock Wind project in Hancock County, the 48 MW Bowers Wind project in Penobscot and Washington Counties, and the 186 MW Bingham Wind project in Somerset County.
About First Wind
First Wind is an independent renewable energy company exclusively focused on the development, financing, construction, ownership and operation of utility-scale renewable energy projects in the United States. Based in Boston, First Wind is operating or building renewable energy projects in the Northeast, the West and Hawai‘i, with combined capacity of nearly 1,300 megawatts (MW) – enough to power more than 375,000 homes each year. For more information on First Wind, please visit www.firstwind.com or follow us on Twitter @FirstWind.