First Wind Secures $98 Million Financing for Rollins Wind Power Project

First Wind, an independent U.S.-based wind energy company, announced that it has obtained $98 million in financing for its 60 Megawatt (MW) Rollins Wind farm project in Penobscot County, Maine.

First Wind closed an $81 million non-recourse construction loan and a $17 million letter of credit facility for the Rollins wind farm. Key Bank National Association (KeyBank) and Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale (Nord/LB) served as the joint lead arrangers for the financing. In addition to the financing, JPM Capital Corporation has executed a tax equity financing agreement with a subsidiary of First Wind. When the project goes into commercial operation, JPM Capital will provide long-term capital to take out the construction loan.

“These financings are important milestones in the development and construction of our Rollins Wind turbines project,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “It demonstrates the strength of this project and the viability of wind power in Maine. We appreciate the commitment of our financial partners, which will help First Wind deliver clean, renewable energy for Maine residents and businesses, as well as significant economic benefits in terms of construction jobs, local tax revenues and work for local businesses. First Wind has worked hard to develop and build the Rollins project the right way. These financings show that the capital markets recognize that this is a strong, well-planned project.”

Since the end of September, First Wind has raised $357 million in financing and repaid $118 million in short-term wind turbines supply loans. Financings include the funds for the Rollins project, $247 million for the 68-turbine expansion of its Milford, Utah project, and $12 million for its Steel Winds facility in Lackawanna, NY.

“We are very pleased to have played a leading role in First Wind’s financing of the Rollins project,” said Andy Redinger, managing director and head of KeyBanc Capital Markets’ Energy Group. “We applaud First Wind’s dedication and the Joint Lead Arrangers’ commitment in successfully closing this financing. The financing of the Rollins project, following the success of First Wind’s three Maine projects, demonstrates that this is an excellent project that will be an excellent source of renewable power for Maine ratepayers.”

During construction, the Rollins Wind project will create about 200 jobs and will provide significant revenue to the surrounding communities. Four local communities near the project (Lincoln, Lee, Burlington and Winn) are slated to receive on average, an estimated combined tax payment of $785,000-a-year for the next 30 years – more than $24 million in total. Maine-based contractor Reed & Reed began construction on the project in September and is hiring mostly Maine-based businesses and subcontractors to work on the project. The project is expected to be online and operating sometime in the early fall of 2011.

First Wind’s Rollins project received approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on April 21, 2009. On August 6, 2009, the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) unanimously voted in support of the DEP permit. On October 7, 2009, the Maine Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a 20-year long-term contract to supply the renewable energy generated from the Rollins Wind project to Maine consumers. Opponents of the project have filed numerous appeals of permits, but the project has been approved at every level, including the Maine Supreme Court.

“First Wind has been researching the siting of this project for more than six years and spent more than $4 million with Maine businesses to conduct studies looking at everything from economic benefits to environmental impacts,” Gaynor added. “We appreciate the excellent support we’ve received from the vast majority of the people in the region, and we look forward to being excellent community partners. This project is being built to the highest standards in the industry and we expect it to be used as a model for wind turbines siting for similar projects moving forward.”

With 125 MW of capacity in Maine, First Wind owns and operates three projects in the state, including the 42 MW Mars Hill Wind farm project in the Town of Mars Hill along with the 57 MW Stetson Wind and the 26 MW Stetson Wind II projects, both located in Washington County near the town of Danforth. Combined, the three wind farm projects generate enough energy to power more than 52,000 homes in the Northeast. First Wind also has several projects in various stages of development throughout Maine and New England.

First Wind is an independent wind energy company exclusively focused on the development, financing, construction, ownership and operation of utility-scale wind turbines projects in the United States. Based in Boston, First Wind has wind projects in the Northeast, the West and in Hawaii, with the capacity to generate up to 504 megawatts of power and projects under construction with the capacity to generate up to an additional 232 megawatts.