March 18, 2015

Maine thinks again on 116MW

reNEWS | 18/03/2015 |

Maine regulators intend to reopen negotiations for power purchase agreements awarded in 2014 to two wind farms.

The state Public Utilities Commission also plans to re-examine the energy solicitation process in the state.

Commissioners in December approved term sheets for SunEdison’s 72.6MW Weaver and NextEra Energy Resources’ 44MW Highland projects following a request for proposals.

However, one of the three commissioners has since been replaced and the board recently voted 2-1 to renegotiate the terms based on falling energy prices that are 20% lower than initially forecast.

The contract rates are 4.675 cents/kWh over 20 years for Highland and 5.3 cents/kWh over 25 years for Weaver, with annual escalators.

NextEra said in a filing before the vote: “The proposals set forth in the term sheets, despite the temporary shifts in market prices, provide overwhelming value to Maine ratepayers and should not be reconsidered.”

The commission’s decision to renegotiate the contracts sets a dangerous precedent and sends the wrong signal to developers and investors in Maine, said wind energy advocates.

NextEra proposes to install 22 turbines with 94-metre towers and 116-metre rotors at the Somerset County site. Highland has been in development since 2007 and is expected to reach commercial operation in October 2017.

SunEdison (formerly First Wind) plans to erect 23 turbines in Hancock County and is considering two Vestas 3.3MW models, the V117 and the V126, according to the site permit application. The developer anticipates starting commercial operation of the $157m project by the end of 2016.

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