First Wind close to Bingham finance

First Wind expects to secure financing for its 62-turbine Bingham wind project in Maine “in the near future”, a spokesman tells Recharge, setting the project on a path towards construction in 2015.

This week Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection approved the Bingham project on a draft basis. The authorities must issue a final decision by early September, but even opponents of the project acknowledge it is now appears likely to go ahead.

The Bingham project, estimated to cost $398m, will offer up a significant turbine order for either Siemens or Vestas – the two suppliers under consideration by Boston-based First Wind.

Depending on the turbine model that is selected, the project will carry a nameplate capacity between 186MW and 206MW.

First Wind chose Vestas V-112 machines for its 148MW Oakfield wind project currently under construction in Maine, where it is the dominant wind developer.

KeyBank National Association served as joint lead arranger for the $237m construction loan First Wind secured for the Oakfield project, due for completion next year.

First Wind has 219MW of operational wind capacity in Maine, more than half of the state’s total capacity of 431MW.

Its position will become even more dominant once Oakfield, Bingham, and the 51MW Hancock project – approved last year – are online.

Maine is expected to fall far short of its 2GW wind target for 2015.

In addition to its wind activities, privately held First Wind, which owns about 1.1GW of operational capacity, has emerged as a major solar developer in recent years in several states.

Earlier this summer First Wind finalised four power-purchase agreements in Utah for 320MW of ground-mount PV capacity at its Four Brothers development, which, taken together, represent the state's largest solar project.