28 May 2014
First Wind, an independent US-based renewable energy company, celebrated the end of construction of the Millbury Solar project and announced that commercial operations have begun. Located in Worcester County, Massachusetts, the 3 megawatt (MW) (AC) project is part of First Wind’s first solar development and first renewable energy project in its home state of Massachusetts. First Wind is also currently completing a 14 MW (AC) solar project in nearby Warren, Massachusetts, which is projected to begin operations next month.
“We are thrilled to have our first solar project up and running, providing clean, cost-competitive renewable energy to customers in our home state of Massachusetts,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “Massachusetts has shown great leadership by setting ambitious clean energy goals, and First Wind is pleased to help develop new sources of cost-competitive, renewable energy that will help support these efforts. Our solar projects are a testament to our partners, the University of Massachusetts and the local communities, and we are now able to deliver clean energy to ratepayers while boosting the local economy through our construction and operations-related activities and via local tax revenues.”
Construction on both the Millbury and Warren projects began in the fall of 2013 after a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) was finalized with the University of Massachusetts (UMass). As part of the PPA, the UMass Lowell campus and the UMass Medical School in Worcester will receive a majority of the financial incentives resulting from both the Millbury and Warren projects. They are expected to avoid $1 million annually in energy costs over the course of the 30-year agreement. Competitive Energy Services, with an office in Topsfield, Massachusetts, advised UMass on the transaction.
“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. By utilizing clean and cost competitive energy, we are not only saving money, we’re setting a powerful example for others to follow.”
Now that the Millbury Solar project has started operations, First Wind will make an annual tax payment of $50,000 to the town of Millbury. In addition, located at three sites in the town of Warren, the company’s 14 MW (AC) project is scheduled to be operational in June, with Warren receiving $130,000 annually in tax payments from First Wind. The towns of Millbury and Orange will also realize annual energy savings by receiving a smaller portion of the energy generated through net metering agreements.
Construction of the projects, led by Borrego Solar Systems, Inc., represented a significant investment in local Massachusetts economies. Construction of the Millbury solar project created approximately 85 construction-related jobs, with the development, construction, and operation of the project serving as a noteworthy source of economic development by driving spending to local businesses.
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. First Wind is also currently developing a 20 MW (AC) solar project in Mililani, Hawaii and seven small utility-scale projects in Utah.