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First Wind transfers 8 projects to new company

Boston-based First Wind Holdings LLC has transferred ownership of its wind farms in the northeastern United States to a new company called Northeast Wind Partners, which it will operate along with Halifax, Nova Scotia-based Emera Inc.

According to an announcement late Friday, First Wind owns 51 percent of the new company and will continue to operate the wind energy projects.

Emera, an energy and services company with $6.9 billion in assets and 2011 revenues of $2.1 billion, paid $211 million for its affiliate Emera Energy Services, which owns 49 percent and will provide energy management services. Emera is also providing a $150 million loan to an intermediate subsidiary company of Northeast Wind Partners, which will be repaid in five years. Emera will finance this transaction through existing credit facilities.

First Wind spokesman Taylor Connolly told Mass High Tech the deal will give the company capital to invest in more Northeast projects. Right now, First Wind has eight wind farms in three northeastern states (four in Maine, one in Vermont and three in New York), with 385 megawatts of power, to Northeast Wind Partners, plus a fifth project near Eastbrook, Maine in construction and expected to be completed by the end of this year.

“This is an exciting partnership for First Wind that will allow us to invest in new, well-sited and well-run wind projects that deliver clean energy to homes and businesses across the Northeast,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind, in a statement. “We see an enormous opportunity to continue to deliver cost-effective clean, renewable energy so that Northeastern states can meet their important renewable portfolio standards.

First Wind said the joint venture could lead to up to $3 billion in future economic investment in the region in coming years.

In recent months, First Wind has seen some successes in projects out west, particularly in Washington and Hawaii, and was simultaneously dealt a blow when another project planned for Lincoln, Maine was denied. Connolly said the company is working to reconfigure the Lincoln project and submit it again.