Boston-based First Wind announced today that it has obtained $98 million in construction financing for its Rollins wind farm, near Lincoln.
The company said it has closed on an $81 million construction loan and a $17 million letter of credit. Key Bank National Association and Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale are the lead arrangers for the financing. When the project goes into operation, JPM Capital Corp. will provide long-term capital to pay back the loan, the company said.
The Rollins Mountain project is a 40-turbine wind farm being built on ridges in eastern Penobscot County. Friends of Lincoln Lakes has been fighting the project in court and before state regulators. Last month, it organized a rally at the construction site, during which five protesters were arrested.
Today’s announcement comes a week after wind opponents filed a legal appeal, seeking to stop construction until First Wind could prove it had the money to complete the $130 million project.
But a lawyer representing Friends of Lincoln Lakes said today that First Wind’s announcement doesn’t change the basis for why the appeal was filed.
The group filed the appeal at the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to challenge the approval of First Wind’s permit last year by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. By the DEP’s rules, First Wind needed to provide documentation that it had the financial capacity to finish the project.
But the group questioned the evidence First Wind had provided to gain its permit in August. It also noted that, following First Wind’s failure in October to launch a public stock offering, the company acknowledged that it had yet to line up all the financing for Rollins.
“Obviously, the DEP’s finding of First Wind’s financial capacity was incorrect,” said Lynne Williams, a lawyer for the opposition group.
Williams said it was too soon to say how the group would proceed, but that it wanted to make a point about the DEP process.
“If nothing else comes of this,” she said, “we need to shine a light on how they make these financial capacity decisions.”
First Wind said its ability to line up financing is an important milestone for Rollins.
“It demonstrates the strength of this project and the viability of wind power in Maine,” Paul Gaynor, First Wind’s CEO, said in a statement.
Rollins has a capacity of 60 megawatts and has a 20-year contract for power sales approved by the Maine Public Utilities Commission. The project will create 200 construction jobs and add $785,000 to the tax base of four area communities, First Wind said. It is scheduled to be on line early next fall.
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