First Wind Receives Approval to Expand Oakfield Wind Power Project

First Wind, an independent U.S.-based wind energy company, today announced it has received unanimous approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for its proposed 150 MW Oakfield Wind project in Aroostook County, Maine. First Wind submitted an amendment in June 2011 to increase the size of the original proposal for a 51 MW Oakfield project, which had received full approval from the Maine DEP in January 2010.

“We are very pleased that the DEP has approved our plans in Oakfield”

“We are very pleased that the DEP has approved our plans in Oakfield,” said Matt Kearns, Vice President of Business Development at First Wind. “The local review process on this project has been unprecedented. We provided resources for the Town to hire independent sound experts, engineers, and lawyers and participated in a lengthy and robust review process in which issues of local interest were fully reviewed. We did that both for the originally planned project, and again based on the revised project layout. We’re looking forward to moving ahead with the project soon.”

Situated approximately 2.5 miles from the center of Oakfield, Maine, the project will consist of 50 3.0 MW turbines that have the capacity to produce enough clean, renewable energy to power more than 48,000 homes. In its four years of development, First Wind has worked closely with the town to solicit significant community input in designing the project. As part of the local review process, First Wind made numerous commitments that go beyond what is required under state law and incorporated those commitments into the DEP application.

During the development phase of the project, more than 40 Maine-based companies were engaged to compile the application to the DEP. To date, First Wind has invested more than $10 million in the local economy in support of development activities such as lease payments, environmental and engineering studies, lodging and more.

The Oakfield Wind project is expected to create more than 300 construction jobs and provide significant revenue to the surrounding communities. For example, First Wind spent more than $30 million with Maine-based businesses during the construction and development of the recently completed 60 MW Rollins Wind project in Penobscot County. First Wind is already working with several leading Maine companies to develop the Oakfield Wind project, including Orono- and Westbrook-based SGC Engineering and Old Town-based James W. Sewall Company.

The project will also bring significant economic benefits to the town—$14.7 million in tax revenues over 20 years, and an additional $12 million in community benefit payments during that time. Those funds go to a town fund, and can be used for town priorities such as a public safety building, fire engines, road improvements and more. The town has indicated it is considering using the tax funds for the following projects:

$2.5 million for construction of a Public Safety Building (including fire safety);
$750,000 for 3 fire trucks;
$7.5 million for local road reconstruction;
$400,000 for Public Works equipment (funding a proportional share of a plow truck, grader, backhoe, and one-ton pick-up truck);
$900,000 for Town salt shed and purchasing road sand and salt;
$200,000 for creating, maintaining and grooming Recreational Trails; and
$500,000 for skills development & training and college scholarships for Oakfield residents.

The project will also deliver clean, renewable energy to homes and businesses in New England.

First Wind has four operation wind farm projects in Maine with the capacity to generate 185 MW of clean wind energy. The 42 MW Mars Hill Wind turbines project in the town of Mars Hill was the first utility-scale wind farm 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. In total, First Wind has worked with over 300 Maine-based businesses to develop, construct and operate its 185 MW Maine-based fleet (including development and construction work on Mars Hill, Stetson I & II and Rollins).