First Wind, an independent U.S.-based renewable energy company, today announced that it has finalized four 20-year power purchase agreements with Rocky Mountain Power, a division of PacifiCorp and part of Berkshire Hathaway Energy. As part of the power purchase agreements, Rocky Mountain Power will buy the output of the planned 320-megawatts (MW) (AC) “Four Brothers” solar development, which includes four, separate fully permitted 80 MW (AC) project sites. Rocky Mountain Power’s purchase is made in connection with its obligation under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, or PURPA, and follows seven (7) similar PURPA agreements for First Wind’s 20 MW (AC) “Seven Sisters” projects. These four solar projects will be located at sites in Beaver and Iron Counties.
“It is with great excitement that we announce this second set of major agreements for cost-competitive and locally produced solar energy in Utah,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “These additional long-term contracts with Rocky Mountain Power will enable us to move forward quickly with what will be the largest solar development in Utah, and our largest solar project to date. When combined with our nearby Milford Wind project and Seven Sisters Projects, we will have a capacity to generate nearly 650 MW of clean electricity while serving as a source of major economic activity for Southern Utah through good construction jobs and significant local tax revenues.”
The “Four Brothers” solar portfolio, which combined would be the largest solar development in Utah to date, includes four separate 80 MW (AC) solar photovoltaic projects, three of which are to be sited in Beaver County and one that will be located in Iron County. Once complete, the combined generating capacity of the four projects will be more than 800,000 megawatt-hours per year, or equivalent to the electricity use of about 90,000 Utah homes per year.
“First Wind has been a great partner to the State of Utah for many years now, and a great partner to Millard and Beaver Counties, where its Milford Wind facility provides significant economic value,” said Cody Stewart, Energy Advisory to Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert. “Today it adds Iron County to the list. Perhaps more importantly, because this project’s electricity will serve Utah directly, the project will add value for all Utahns for decades to come. We’re glad to see that large scale solar has finally come to Utah.”
With the start of major construction slated to begin in 2015 and a target completion date in 2016, the projects will create approximately 500 construction jobs. In addition, approximately $66 million in direct property and income taxes will be generated by the project over 20 years. These jobs and property taxes will spur Southern Utah’s economic growth, in particular within the rural communities of Beaver and Iron Counties.
“We are excited to be part of Utah’s clean energy revolution, which will transform this rural part of Southern Utah into a hub of renewable energy production,” said Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney. “In addition to the clean energy, these solar projects will be a boon for our local economy through hundreds of construction jobs and new property and tax revenue that will help support our community, schools and other municipal needs. We have been fortunate to partner with First Wind for nearly a decade now as part of its wind development efforts and we are very pleased to expand our collaboration into solar energy.”
First Wind has been actively engaged with communities in Southern Utah for nearly ten years. Local high school students in the Town of Milford (affectionately known as “The Wind Kids”) have played an important role in the development, construction and operations of the company’s 306 MW Milford Wind project. The pilot scholarship for the First Wind Scholars program was launched in Beaver County, and continues to fund scholarships for local students in both Beaver and Millard counties. Finally, construction and ongoing operations and maintenance of the company’s renewable energy projects have provided significant economic and employment opportunities for local businesses, contractors and suppliers throughout Southern Utah.
Combined, the “Four Brothers” and “Seven Sisters” solar project portfolio in Utah will be by far the largest collection of solar projects to be developed by First Wind’s new solar division, First Wind Solar Group. Established to explore solar energy opportunities near the company’s wind projects in the West, Hawaii and the Northeast, First Wind Solar Group recently completed construction on its Massachusetts-based 3 MW (AC) Millbury Solar project. In addition, First Wind Solar Group will celebrate the completion of a combined 14 MW (AC) solar project in Warren, Mass. later this month and is developing a 20 MW (AC) solar project in Mililani, Hawaii.
About First Wind
First Wind is an independent renewable energy company exclusively focused on the development, financing, construction, ownership and operation of utility-scale renewable energy projects in the United States. Based in Boston, First Wind is operating or building renewable energy projects in the Northeast, the West and Hawaii, with combined capacity of nearly 1,300 megawatts – enough to power more than 375,000 homes each year. For more information on First Wind, please visit www.firstwind.com or follow us on Twitter @FirstWind.