Maine gives first OK to wind energy project

The Maine Land Use Regulation Commission has given tentative approval to plans for a 19 wind turbines wind farm in rural Hancock County, but obstacles remain before a final vote next month.

On Wednesday, LURC officials were mostly satisfied with the proposal from Blue Sky East, a subsidiary of First Wind, the largest developer of wind farms in Maine. The commission is expected to review oncerns over how the wind power project would affect environmental scenery. But final approval is expected next month.

Blue Sky East wants to build 19 wind turbines, each 476 feet tall and capable of producing about 1.8 megawatts, of power just east of Eastbrook. The entire project is rated to generate 34.2 megawatts. The Bangor Daily News says Blue Sky attorney Kelly Boden estimates the $70 million wind energy project will benefit the entire state.

In December, 2010, First Wind closed on $98 million financing for the project, including an $81 million non-recourse construction loan and a $17 million letter of credit facility for the Rollins project. 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.

With the completion of the Rollins project, First Wind now has four projects in Maine with the capacity to generate 185 MW of clean wind energy, or enough to power more than 75,000 homes in the Northeast. Celebrating its fourth year of commercial operations, the 42 MW Mars Hill Wind project in the Town of Mars Hill was the first utility-scale wind project in Maine. First Wind operates the 57 MW Stetson Wind and the 26 MW Stetson Wind II projects, both located in Washington County near the town of Danforth. First Wind also has a number of projects in various stages of development throughout Maine and New England.