Boston-based First Wind has submitted a proposal to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to sell power from five wind power projects, four of which are in Maine, to users in Connecticut. The total power output is 396.5 Megawatts.
First Wind is the biggest wind power developer in Maine with five operating projects in the state with a cumulative capacity of 291 MW, as well as projects in half a dozen other states.
The largest of the proposed wind power projects First Wind wants to build to provide electricity to Connecticut is called Molunkus Wind. It would involve erecting 65 turbines with a total nameplate capacity of 145 Megawatts.
The maps showing the location of the Molunkus Wind development (pages 18, 34) have been redacted from the proposal. However, based on the name, the location of First Wind’s existing developments in Maine, and other hints, it appears to be east of Medway in an area designated by Maine for expedited permitting.
First Wind is still studying the impacts of the project, but one has already been tagged. The proposal says that “There may be potential visibility of the Project from one site that is identified by the State of Maine as a scenic resource of state or national significance and is regulated for the their scenic qualities by the State (Salmon Stream Lake).” (page 44) The view of monumental Katahdin in Baxter State Park is a popular sight from Interstate 95 at Salmon Stream Lake. It is 24 miles from Katahdin to Salmon Stream Lake.
First Wind is rushing to try to get Molunkus Wind and other new wind power projects into the pipeline so that the company can tap the Production Tax Credit for wind developments, which expires at the end of 2013.
According to the website Wind Power for ME, which only provides pro-wind power information, there are currently 195 turbines constructed and under construction in Maine.
First Wind recently proposed the largest yet wind power development in Maine. It would involve 62 turbines across Mayfield Township, Kingsbury Plantation and the Town of Bingham with a nameplate capacity of 186 MW.
The biggest operating wind power project in New England currently is TransCanada’s 132 MW Kibby project on the Maine border near Quebec.
Who’s on First?
It is difficult to keep track of the players without a scorecard. Here is a short glossary for the Molunkus Wind project.
First Wind – First Wind Land Holdings, LLC was formed in 2002. In April 2006, First Wind got financial backing from two large private equity firms, D.E. Shaw and Madison Dearborn Partners. As of the end of 2012, First Wind had about 200 employees and $2.1 billion in assets.
D.E. Shaw – DES, one of the two financial backers of First Wind, is a global investment and technology development firm founded in 1988 with offices in North America, Europe and Asia.
Madison Dearborn Partners – MDP is the other financial backer of First Wind. The private equity firm, which was founded in 1992, focuses on investments in basic industries, such as energy, communications, consumer products, financial services, and healthcare services.
Northeast Joint Venture – In June 2012, First Wind Holdings partnered with Emera Inc. to jointly own and operate wind projects in the Northeastern U.S. through a new company called Northeast Wind Partners. First Wind has a 51 percent stake, Emera 49 percent. The relationship with Emera provides First Wind with access to attractively priced equity capital that can be used for development or construction-related spend for the Project.
Emera – Emera Inc. is a multinational corporation based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with $7.8 billion in assets and annual revenues of more than $2 billion. Emera was created in 1991 when the provincial public corporation Nova Scotia Power Incorporated was privatized. Among Emera’s holdings is Bangor Hydro Electric Company, which provides electricity to much of eastern Maine.
Maine Wind Holdings – Maine Wind Holdings LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of First Wind Holdings, LLC.
GreenMountain Wind – GreenMountain Wind is a wholly owned subsidiary of Maine Wind Holdings, which is wholly owned by First Wind. GreenMountain Wind is a shell company with no employees. It would “own” the Molunkus Wind project.
Molunkus Wind – Molunkus Wind is a proposed project of GreenMountain Wind, which is wholly owned by Maine Wind Holdings, which is wholly owned by First Wind Holdings LLC.
PTC/ITC – The federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) or Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a tax break First Wind and other wind power developers take advantage of to subsidize the expensive production of electricity from wind power projects. Congress let the PTC expire in 2012, but under intense lobbying pressure by First Wind and other corporations the taxpayer-funded subsidy was extended until December 31, 2013. First Wind is lobbying to extend it again.
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