Maine's utility commission today approved a 20-year electricity supply contract with First Wind, the first long-term contract the state has committed to since it deregulated the electricity industry in 2000.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission has reached a deal with First Wind Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Evergreen Wind Power III LLC, for electricity generated at the company's $130 million, 60-megawatt Rollins Mountain wind farm in Penobscot County, according to a press release from the PUC. No dollar figure can be attached to the contract until it is signed, which is expected to occur next week, Evelyn deFrees, a PUC spokesperson, told Mainebiz.
According to the contract, Central Maine Power Co. will receive 80% of the electricity and Bangor Hydro Electric will receive 20%. The deal will lower energy costs for consumers, increase renewable energy capacity and offset new transmission costs, according to the release. "The First Wind contract makes it possible for Maine ratepayers to gain energy supply cost benefits from a renewable energy resource, and the company gets the financial assurance the contract provides to become fully operational," said PUC Chair Sharon Reishus in the release. In a separate release, First Wind said the agreement "will provide protection against the fluctuating prices of power produced by fossil fuels."
This is the state's first long-term supply contract since deregulation in 2000, and since the Legislature gave approval to the PUC in 2006 to develop long-term energy contracts. The PUC issued a request for proposals for contracts in December 2008 and received the first proposals in April 2009, according to the release. The commission is still considering other proposals it has received, deFrees said.
Massachusetts-based First Wind operates wind farms in northern and Down East Maine under various Evergreen subsidiaries, and earlier this year received approval from the Department of Environmental Protection to build the Rollins Mountain wind farm, which is planned for ridgelines in Burlington, Lee, Lincoln and Winn. Construction is expected to start by the fall of 2010, and the farm will produce enough electricity to power about 23,000 homes, according to First Wind.