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First Wind begins new construction in Maine

First Wind, an independent U.S.-based wind energy company, has obtained $76 million in construction financing for its 34 MW Bull Hill Wind project in Hancock County, Maine. With financing in place, First Wind will start major construction activities on the project, which will have the capacity to generate enough clean energy to power about 18,000 homes.

A subsidiary of First Wind closed a $70 million non-recourse construction loan and $6 million in letters of credit for the Bull Hill Wind project. Union Bank served as administrative agent and Project LC Issuing Bank. Additionally, an affiliate of Union Bank will provide long-term capital through sale-leaseback financing for the Bull Hill Project upon achievement of commercial operations.

The output of the Bull Hill Wind project will be sold to NSTAR under a long-term power purchase agreement, which was approved in August 2011. Once complete, Eastbrook and the surrounding communities in Hancock County will receive an average aggregate tax payment of approximately $100,000 annually for the next 20 years and an additional $240,000 annually in community benefit payments.

Construction of the project will include the installation of 19 Vestas 1.8 MW wind turbines on Bull Hill and Heifer Hill ridges in Hancock County, Maine. During construction, the Bull Hill Wind project will create about 200 jobs and will provide significant revenue to the surrounding communities. Maine-based contractor Reed & Reed has commenced site preparation work and is hiring mostly Maine-based businesses and subcontractors to work on the project. The installation of the turbines is expected to take place during the summer of 2012, and the project is expected to be online and operating by the end of 2012.

Bull Hill Wind will represent First Wind’s fifth operational project in Maine. First Wind has 4 other operational wind projects in Maine including the 42 MW Mars Hill Wind project in Aroostook County, which just marked its 5 year anniversary of commercial operations, along with the 60 MW Rollins Wind project in Penobscot County and the 57 MW Stetson Wind and the 26 MW Stetson Wind II projects, both located in Washington County.