Maine wind farm project breaks ground

Source: By Jack Newsham, Boston Globe • Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2015

A renewable energy developer has broken ground on a giant wind farm in central Maine that is expected to power 65,000 homes.

SunEdison, the Missouri solar energy company that purchased the Boston wind developer First Wind last year, said Wednesday that it has completed financing and started construction on a 185-megawatt wind farm near the town of Bingham. The wind farm was previously under development by First Wind.

The company expects to spend $420 million on the 56-turbine project, and has taken out $360 million in loans to build the wind farm. Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil will buy the power generated by the turbines according to the terms of 15-year agreements the companies negotiated, according to David Fowler, SunEdison’s director of development for New England.

“We anticipate on having commercial operation in the fourth quarter of 2016,” Fowler said. He said the company is already clearing land and building roads, but bad weather may affect the pace of construction, especially when the frozen land begins to thaw in the spring.

Fowler, who worked for First Wind before it was acquired, said the Bingham wind farm has been under development for five years. Upon completion, he said, it could connect to the New England electrical grid with only small modifications that SunEdison will finance.

Many other proposed wind projects in Maine will require larger transmission projects, paid for by utility companies from southern New England under a massive bid solicitation that could finance enough renewable energy infrastructure to power 136,000 Massachusetts homes.

The Bingham project will grow SunEdison’s wind energy generating capacity in Maine by 50 percent and employ 400 construction workers, according to the company. The wind farm had faced local opposition, but it was approved by the state late last year, according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Jack Newsham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.