The developer of the Fairhaven wind project has the rights to two turbines. Now he just has to find a way to pay for them.
The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, which owns the turbines, agreed to sell them to CCI Energy more than a month ago. But James Sweeney, president of CCI Energy, is still finishing the project’s financing, and until that’s in place he can’t complete the purchase.
“The project has low returns,” Mr. Sweeney said. “That’s the obstacle we’re overcoming.”
Other parts of the project, such as permitting, are moving forward on schedule, he said.
If Mr. Sweeney can’t attract sufficient investment with the project’s current financial structure, he might forgo the MTC turbines and purchase larger ones.
All of the underlying project costs – site preparation, legal expenses, etc. – will remain the same, but larger turbines will generate more power and thus increase the project’s returns.
Selectman Brian Bowcock said Mr. Sweeney could use larger turbines as long as they fall within the town’s bylaws.
Regardless of which turbines are installed, the town has a 20-year contract with CCI, Dr. Bowcock said, and, within that time frame, new turbine technology will likely be developed – and utilized by CCI.
“As new technology comes along, as more efficient turbines are developed, there’s probably going to be a proposal to put a new turbine up that’s more energy-efficient,” Dr. Bowcock said. “That’s going to generate more money for the town.”
CCI Energy has until March 31 to complete the purchase with MTC. The original deadline was Feb. 1, but MTC granted CCI an extension.
“CCI asked for some more time to finish putting their financial package together,” Mr. Bolgen said. “We’re always keeping our eyes open (for other wind projects), but we’ve given CCI more time.”
In addition to financing, CCI still needs approval from the town’s Conservation Commission and Planning Board, and is in the middle of a wetlands delineation study.
“We’re not holding up because of the wetlands permits at all. … We’re sure that’s going to happen,” Mr. Sweeney said. “The financing is more of the issue than anything else, because the project went up in cost.”
The cost of completing the wind project has increased more than $1 million since CCI first started working on it, he said.
“The construction costs have gone up, permitting costs, just in general the whole project costs went up quite a bit,” he said.
The current project costs, he said, are more than $8 million and CCI needs outside investors.
“We’re talking with many investors,” he said. “There could be half a dozen investors.”
At one point, CCI was in discussions with developer Jay Cashman, who also has proposed a large-scale wind project for Buzzards Bay, about investing in the project. They did not reach an agreement, Mr. Sweeney said.
ECO Industries LLC, a wholly owned affiliate of Jay Cashman Inc., submitted a bid for the Fairhaven wind project but lost to CCI.
The search for financing has caused a slight delay in the project time line, Mr. Sweeney said. The turbines should be up and running by October, he estimated.
Under the terms of CCI’s contract with the town, the project must be completed by 2009.
By Charis Anderson
Standard-Times staff writer
22 February 2008
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