First Wind is known for developing wind farms. But the firm’s first power plant in its home state will most likely end up being solar-powered.
The Boston company has a number of wind turbine projects in northern New England, but it abandoned plans for what would have been its first wind farm in Massachusetts two years ago.
Now, First Wind is getting into the solar business, after buying the development rights to solar projects in three Massachusetts towns earlier this year from Victus Solar. First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne gave me the lineup for what the company has on tap following the Victus Solar acquisition:
- 3.9 megawatts in Millbury
- 6 megawatts in Freetown
- 17 megawatts in Warren, spread among three projects in the town
“We’re excited about the possibility of having a renewable project in our home state,” Lamontagne says. “It’s kind of a natural thing for us. … We’ve developed a lot of utility-scale wind projects. Solar, in many respects, has some similar characteristics as wind.”
Growing wind and solar generation in the state has been a huge priority for Gov. Deval Patrick, almost since he took office in 2007. The progress on wind development has been slower than he had hoped. But solar has easily exceeded his expectations: He set a goal of reaching 250 megawatts of solar generation in the state by 2017, when there were fewer than five megawatts at the time. The state just crossed that threshold this spring – four years early.
The state Department of Energy Resources can certify solar renewable energy credits for up to 400 megawatts of solar projects in the state, essentially creating a way to ensure these projects will have buyers for their power. Now the Patrick administration is working on a way of adjusting that cap. After all, with players such as First Wind in the game now, it probably won’t be long before we cross that threshold as well.
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