First Wind enters solar field

First Wind is now developing solar PV projects with construction of an initial 17MW (AC) of projects underway in Massachusetts, where the company is based.

First Wind’s portfolio there will include a 3MW (AC) project in Millbury and a 14MW (AC) project at three sites in the town of Warren.  The combined Warren projects will comprise the second-largest solar project in the state. All four project sites should be completed and operating by June 2014.

The developer is breaking ground after it recently secured financing and signed a 30-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with the University of Massachusetts, as well as net metering agreements with the towns of Millbury and Orange. First Wind says UMass will save more than $1m in annual energy costs.

Millbury and Orange have agreed to purchase a smaller portion of the energy generated by the projects.  Orange will realize more than $85,000-a-year in electricity savings, while Millbury will see annual savings of $110,000.

KeyBank National Association provided a construction and term facility loan for the project and U.S. Bank provided the tax equity.

The PPA also supports the state’s ambitious solar energy goals.  After reaching the initial 250MW target four years early in May, Governor Deval Patrick recently announced a new goal of 1.6GW by 2020.