First Wind, a U.S.-based renewable energy company, said that through a bidding process overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, two of its planned Maine wind power projects have been selected by Massachusetts utilities to provide renewable wind energy to homes and businesses across the commonwealth.
The contracts, which still must be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, will provide wind power from the 147 MW Oakfield Wind project in Aroostook County and the 186 MW Bingham Wind project in Somerset County.
The renewable energy from the Oakfield Wind project, which received siting approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in January 2012, is contracted to be sold to Massachusetts customers of four utilities as part of a 15-year contract. The Oakfield project will be a 48-turbine, 147 MW capacity project and will generate enough clean energy to power about 50,000 Massachusetts homes. Construction of the Oakfield project is scheduled to start by the end of this year and should be completed and online in 2015.
The planned Bingham Wind project would feature 62 turbines totaling 186 MW of energy capacity – enough to power almost 70,000 Massachusetts homes. Massachusetts utilities have agreed to purchase the power as part of a 15-year contract. The Bingham project is in the advanced permitting stages with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
In May, Massachusetts utilities opened up initial bidding from renewable power generators for contracts that would last as long as 15 or 20 years. The clean energy procurement process was initiated pursuant to Section 83A of the 2012 Massachusetts energy bill, which required all of the state’s electric distribution companies solicit proposals from renewable energy developers for the purpose of entering into cost-effective long-term contracts. Projects were chosen based on a variety of factors, including cost-competitiveness for consumers.
Both projects are expected to qualify for federal investment tax credits.
The two projects would be the sixth and seventh First Wind projects in Maine. The most recently completed project, the Bull Hill Wind project near Eastbrook, Maine in Hancock County, provides cost-competitive power to NSTAR.