First Wind Celebrates Anniversary of Mars Hill Wind Project

Maine's first utility-scale wind energy facility has generated more than 627,000 megawatt-hours of energy since 2007, and revenue has reduced local taxpayer burden by up to 20 percent

First Wind, an independent U.S.-based wind energy company, is marking the fifth anniversary of successful commercial operations of its 42 MW Mars Hill Wind project, which supplies clean, renewable energy to local ratepayers in northern Maine. Since it began commercial operations on March 27, 2007, Mars Hill has produced more than 627,000 megawatt-hours of energy and generated approximately $2.5 million in tax revenue for the town of Mars Hill.

The Mars Hill project, which cost about $90 million to develop and build, generates enough power for an average of 20,000 Maine homes each year. New Brunswick Power purchases all of the power and it is distributed to homes and businesses in Northern Maine. Reflecting the cost-competitiveness of wind energy with traditional fossil fuel sources, New Brunswick Power was recently able to offer a 10-20 percent discount in its standard offer service in the Mars Hill service territory.

"As the first utility-scale wind project here in Maine and New England and our second project to achieve commercial operations, Mars Hill is a special project to us. Since it went online in 2007, we have built three more projects in the state and have several others in development,"said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. "More broadly, we're heartened to see how far wind in Maine has come in the last five years, benefiting ratepayers, reducing the state's dependence on fossil fuels, and furthering economic development.

In the five years since the Mars Hill Wind project went online, First Wind has invested another $420 million in wind projects in Maine. The company's four Maine projects are scheduled to make more than $40 million in tax payments to host communities over the next 30 years. More than 1,000 people have worked on First Wind projects since the start of the development of the Mars Hill project.

Below is a summary of some of the notable milestones achieved during Mars Hill's five years of successful commercial operations:

Operation Highlights

  • Mars Hill has generated more than 627,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of clean, renewable electricity.
  • The renewable power generated has been supplying clean, renewable electricity to approximately 20,000 homes in northern Maine each year since it opened.

Environmental Benefits

  • Based on data recently published by the U.S. EPA's Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database (E-GRID), generating an equivalent amount of electric energy from a traditional fossil fuel burning facility would have required about 1 million barrels of oil or 235,000 tons of coal over the five year period, yet has none of the associated toxicity, health, or cost issues.
  • Traditional New England fossil fuel generation sources producing an equivalent annual amount of electric energy would emit greenhouse gases (GHG) consisting of nearly 51,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Economic and Community Benefits

  • Local property tax bills have dropped approximately 20 percent due to the approximate $500,000 a year in local taxes First Wind is paying to the Town of Mars Hill. In total, that is more than $10 million in tax payments paid to the Town over a 20 year period.
  • One Mars Hill high school student received a scholarship through the First Wind Scholars program. The $3,000 college scholarship supported a Mars Hill high school student who displayed strong potential for a successful college experience, as well as interest in the environment, energy, or the sciences.
  • First Wind is a supporter of the Big 13 ATV club, the International Appalachian Trail, the Mars Hill American Legion and other local groups. The project's operations team has made the project accessible to ATV clubs, snowmobilers, and others as allowed by the landowner.

In addition to Mars Hill, First Wind has three other operational wind projects in Maine, including the 60 MW Rollins Wind project in Penobscot County and the 83 MW cumulative Stetson Wind I and II projects in Washington County. These facilities combined have 185 MW of capacity and generate 538,422 MWh of clean power annually. Over $125 million in direct spending has been invested into Maine-based companies during the development and construction of these four projects.

About First Wind

First Wind is an independent wind energy company exclusively focused on the development, financing, construction, ownership, and operation of utility-scale wind projects in the United States. Based in Boston, First Wind has wind projects in the Northeast, the West, and Hawaii, with the capacity to generate up to 750 megawatts of power, and projects under construction with the capacity to generate up to an additional 195 megawatts.

For more information on First Wind, please click here.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012 - 04:26

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