(Today’s Boston Globe features a fluff piece on Hawaii’s largest Wind Farm scammer. We’ve added the missing information in order to make the story accurate. See below.)
Boston Globe: …Its revenues have soared to about $250 million a year from just $7.1 million in 2006, according to the company and financial filings, as it has targeted states such as New York, Maine, and Hawaii where high energy costs and friendly renewable energy policies make wind power competitive….
First Wind built its first project in 2006 on the Hawaiian island of Maui, a 30-megawatt wind farm along a ridge on the West Maui Mountains, which tested another key component of its strategy: winning the support of environmentalists. The ridge is home to three endangered bird species and a type of endangered bat….
Originally known as UPC Wind, the firm was founded in 2002 by Brian Caffyn, a Massachusetts native who spent years working in the wind industry in Italy…. (Details: Hawaii Wind Developer tied to Largest-ever asset seizure by anti-Mafia police – More details: Anti-Mafia Police Seize More Property Tied to Hawaii Windfarm Developer)
Before building, First Wind worked with experts on plans to protect those animals and committed a minimum of $1 million to make them happen.
“You have to find a way to coexist. You can’t look at a wind farm and say they have no environmental impacts,” Gaynor said. “That’s the ethic we took from there – I took from there – to every other project.”
But First Wind has also attracted fierce critics, who argue its industrial installations are out of place in remote, natural areas, destroying landscapes and property values. Some blame the rotating turbine blades for headaches and dizzy spells.
In Maine, community groups such as Friends of Maine’s Mountains have repeatedly opposed more wind development in favor of hydropower, which generates about quarter of Maine’s electricity. Christopher O’Neil, a spokesman for Friends of Maine’s Mountains, said the relatively small amount of power generated by wind energy, an intermittent source, is not worth the environmental damage.
In Hawaii, First Wind has come under scrutiny following several battery fires at a wind farm on Oahu Island, including one that shut the site for a year. On Maui, some critics say First Wind’s turbines have marred the view of the ridge, visible as planes descend onto the island. Still others say the wind projects have failed to lower electricity prices in Hawaii, the highest in the nation.
(Some of us scrutinized them BEFORE the inevitable fire: Xtreme Power: A Pig-in-a-poke For Hawaii Wind Farm and are already scrutinizing the next battery scam: Playing with Fire: Kahuku Windfarm to Install Molten Magnesium Batteries.)
“If you heard the message as, ‘Your bill is going to drop,’ those people feel a sense of disappointment,” said Doug McLeod, Maui County’s energy commissioner.
First Wind said it has no control over electric rates set by the state, but knows that the energy its produces is cheaper than other sources of power in Hawaii….
Gaynor said he sees more expansion ahead. The company, which employs more than 200, including 70 in Massachusetts, recently launched a solar power division.
Business Plan: Kahuku Windfarm Loan Timed to Boost IPO, Avoid Jail
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