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Berkshire Wind Project credit rating affirmed at A+; Local towns are utility members

The A+ credit rating of the Berkshire Wind Power Project (BWPP), the state’s second largest wind farm, has been affirmed by Fitch Ratings, which cited the financial strength and stability of the municipal utilities that own the project along with the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC). The ratings outlook from Fitch is stable.

BWPP is comprised of 14 Massachusetts municipal utilities, which locally includes Holden, Paxton and Sterling, and MMWEC, all non-profit, public power entities. Through contracts with BWPCC and MMWEC, the municipal utilities receive their shares of project output and are responsible for their proportionate share of project costs. BWPCC issued $64.7 million in bonds to finance the project, a 10-turbine, 15-megawatt wind farm on Brodie Mountain in Hancock, Mass., that started operation in May 2011.

“Strong project participants evidencing considerable financial wherewithal benefit the BWPCC project rating,” according to Fitch. “In addition, the participants’ healthy financial positions should ultimately help ensure that BWPCC meets all financial commitments.”

“The Berkshire Wind Power Project embodies the commitment of Massachusetts municipal utilities to a clean energy future,” said MMWEC Chief Executive Office Ronald C. DeCurzio. “The project’s A+ credit rating reflects the strong financial standing of municipal utilities but also the value of municipal utility joint action through MMWEC.”

The rating also is a reflection of the project’s ability to meet its performance goals, according to Ed Kaczenski, Director of Engineering and Generation Assets for MMWEC.

“The project capacity factor is right in line with initial forecasts, averaging 38.3 percent since 2014,” Kaczenski said. “The Berkshire Wind Power Project’s performance is exceptional for an inland wind resource.”

The capacity factor represents the percentage of time the project produces electricity when it is available for operation. Due to varying wind availability, most inland wind projects operate at a capacity factor nearer 30 percent, but Brodie Mountain is one of the windiest sites in Massachusetts. The project produces enough electricity to power approximately 6,000 homes.