Monday, September 30, 2013

First Wind Enters Solar Market on Massachusetts Projects

First Wind Holdings Inc. began construction on 17 megawatts of solar plants in central Massachusetts, the Boston-based wind-farm developer’s first photovoltaic projects.

The plants comprise a 3-megawatt facility in the town of Millbury and three sites with a total of 14 megawatts of capacity in Warren, First Wind said today in a statement. Borrego Solar Systems Inc. is building the projects and they’re expected to begin producing power by June.

The company will sell the majority of the output under a long-term contract to the University of Massachusetts. The towns of Millbury and Orange have also to buy a smaller portion, according to the statement. KeyCorp (KEY) provided construction and term facility loans and US Bancorp the tax equity.


Wind energy company Pattern blows past IPO price in debut

* At a high of $24.30, company valued at $1.24 bln
* Raises $352 mln from IPO
* Shares jump as much as 10 pct
Sept 27 (Reuters) - Shares of Pattern Energy Group Inc rose 10 percent in their debut, as the recent rally in renewable energy stocks rubbed off on the first-ever public offering of a U.S. wind farm operator.
Pattern's IPO comes almost three years after First Wind Holdings Inc yanked its offering in November 2010 after investors balked at an unprofitable company with aggressive expansion plans. ()
However, Pattern has solid cash flow and has been largely profitable, factors that may have helped the company get a better pricing and drive the stock up on debut.
The company raised $352 million after pricing its offering at $22 per share, just above its expected price range of $19-$21. Pattern sold 16 million shares.
San Francisco, California-based Pattern owns and operates eight wind power projects in the United States, Canada and Chile, with a total power-generation capacity of 1,041 MW.
Pattern's net profit rose to $29.14 million for the first six months of 2013, from $6.44 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 62 percent to $102.54 million.
The company is expected to benefit from the extension of a critical tax credit by the U.S. Congress in January.
Siemens AG, the world's No.3 maker of wind turbines, said last month that it expects the global wind power market to more than quadruple by 2030, lifted by strong growth in Asia.
Pattern Energy's shares opened at $24.10 and touched a high of $24.30, valuing the company at $1.24 billion. Nearly 8 million shares changed hands by 12:30 p.m. ET, making it one of the most heavily traded stocks on the Nasdaq on Friday.
"Based on this success, I would anticipate other such filings coming shortly," founder, John Fitzgibbon said.
Pattern Energy is headed by Mike Garland, who led the North American infrastructure group of investment and advisory company Babcock & Brown that was liquidated after the financial crisis.
Private equity firm Riverstone Holdings bought Babcock's wind energy business and named it Pattern Energy Group LP, the parent company of the listed entity.
BMO Capital Markets, RBC Capital Markets and Morgan Stanley are the underwriters for the IPO.
Pattern Energy shares were up 7 percent at $23.45 in afternoon trade on the Nasdaq.
The S&P Global Clean Energy Index has jumped 40 percent from April, compared to an 8 percent rise in the broader S&P 500.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

First Wind to provide wind energy to Massachusetts

First Wind, a U.S.-based renewable energy company, said that through a bidding process overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, two of its planned Maine wind power projects have been selected by Massachusetts utilities to provide renewable wind energy to homes and businesses across the commonwealth.

The contracts, which still must be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, will provide wind power from the 147 MW Oakfield Wind project in Aroostook County and the 186 MW Bingham Wind project in Somerset County.

The renewable energy from the Oakfield Wind project, which received siting approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in January 2012, is contracted to be sold to Massachusetts customers of four utilities as part of a 15-year contract. The Oakfield project will be a 48-turbine, 147 MW capacity project and will generate enough clean energy to power about 50,000 Massachusetts homes. Construction of the Oakfield project is scheduled to start by the end of this year and should be completed and online in 2015.

The planned Bingham Wind project would feature 62 turbines totaling 186 MW of energy capacity — enough to power almost 70,000 Massachusetts homes. Massachusetts utilities have agreed to purchase the power as part of a 15-year contract. The Bingham project is in the advanced permitting stages with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

In May, Massachusetts utilities opened up initial bidding from renewable power generators for contracts that would last as long as 15 or 20 years. The clean energy procurement process was initiated pursuant to Section 83A of the 2012 Massachusetts energy bill, which required all of the state’s electric distribution companies solicit proposals from renewable energy developers for the purpose of entering into cost-effective long-term contracts. Projects were chosen based on a variety of factors, including cost-competitiveness for consumers.

Both projects are expected to qualify for federal investment tax credits.

The two projects would be the sixth and seventh First Wind projects in Maine. The most recently completed project, the Bull Hill Wind project near Eastbrook, Maine in Hancock County, provides cost-competitive power to NSTAR.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

First Wind Selected for Multiple Award Task Order Contract by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Boston-based renewable energy company earns spot on list of 17 private companies pre-qualified to develop wind energy projects for U.S. DoD facilities nationwide

First Wind, an independent U.S.-based renewable energy company, has been selected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, to compete for opportunities to supply wind energy to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) from projects developed at or near DoD facilities. This announcement from the DoD comes as the third in a series of four groups of renewable energy contracts that will be worth $7 billion and will support the DoD’s renewable energy initiatives.

“We are pleased to have been chosen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Defense to help them achieve their energy and sustainability goals,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “The Huntsville Multiple Award Task Order Contracts (MATOC) and establishment of the Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF) streamlined the contracting process, and First Wind is eager for the opportunity to bid on projects that will deliver cost-effective clean energy to military facilities throughout the United States.”

As the largest energy consumer in the United States, the DoD has also announced MATOC contracts with solar and geothermal groups in an effort to increase energy security and the use of on-site renewable resources. By utilizing Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), DoD will purchase renewable energy at long-term fixed prices and avoid the expense of financing, building and operating generation facilities.

With operational projects that have a combined capacity of more than 1,000 megawatts (MW) in six states across the United States, First Wind has a proven track record of developing, building and operating successful renewable energy projects for leading energy utilities and customers. First Wind’s projects have generated millions of dollars in investment and new revenue for host communities while delivering cost-effective clean energy to homes and businesses across the country.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Wind investments blow Pickens off the Forbes 400 list

Businessman T. Boone Pickens was dropped from the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans after losing much of his fortune in the wind farming industry.

According to Forbes, Pickens’ fortune dropped below the $ 1 billion mark for the first time since 2005. His net worth once amounted to an estimated $2 billion, but now it sits at around $950 million.
He told the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he had “lost [his] ass in the [wind] business.” He added, “the jobs are in oil and gas.”

In 2008, Pickens debuted his “Pickens Plan,” which aimed to increase the nation’s use of wind energy and decrease America’s dependence on OPEC oil. With the help of investors he spent 80 million dollars on TV ads to promote his plan and $2 billion on General Electric wind turbines. Pickens hoped that once the wind farm was constructed, it would be the largest in the world.

The plan collapsed after natural gas prices fell and selling wind power was no longer economically feasible. He lost $150 million of his personal fortune on the failed wind plan.

After his failure in the wind market, Pickens revamped his Pickens Plan to focus on the use of natural gas as well as any other American-based energy source.

He has made moves to convert all trucks from using gasoline to natural gas. As part of this effort, he has encouraged Obama to use subsidies in order to incentivize the trucking industry to make the switch.

Pickens says that this new endeavor is mainly an effort to “end America’s addiction to foreign oil,” though critics also speculate that although the former billionaire is now 84, profits are driving his interest in energy policy.

The American energy man wants the world to know that he will be able to survive living off of his mere $950 million. When ESPN’s Darren Rovell confronted Pickens over Twitter about his new status as a millionaire, Pickens tweeted, “Don’t worry. At $950 million, I’m doing fine. Funny, my $1 billion charitable giving exceeds my net worth.”


Christopher Velez Is Declared Official Winner of Cohocton GOP Supervisor Primary

BATH, NY - Officials at the Steuben County Board of Elections are reporting that after counting the absentee ballots today, in the Cohocton Republican primary, Chris Velez is the winner. 
Velez has defeated incumbent Jack Zigenfuss, 210-204. 
Zigenfuss has also filed as a conservative in November, so he will still be a candidate in November.

BP dropping wind power, selling farms

A company spokesman said the decision is part of a continuing effort "to become a more focused oil and gas company ... and to unlock more value for shareholders." The sale reflects the complicated relationship between the major oil companies and renewable energy over the past decade, even as wind and solar energy slowly gained market share. While oil and gas may yield more profit, he said ...


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Boston’s First Wind buys Westerly Wind’s 200MW farm

First Wind Holdings of Boston, Massachusetts, has purchased provider of development capital Westerly Wind’s Route 66 Wind Power – a late stage wind farm development project in Texas.

Route 66 Wind Power has a potential capacity of up to 200MW and will deliver power to the ERCOT power markets via the CREZ transmission system.

‘The Route 66 Wind Power project is well positioned to capture the excellent wind resource in the Texas Panhandle and we are pleased to have sold this project to an experienced wind farm owner-operator such as First Wind,’ said Westerly CEO, Steve Schauer.

‘Westerly Wind remains focused on continuing to build value in our future and existing development projects.’


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Study: Wind farms killed 67 eagles in 5 years

Wind energy facilities have killed at least 67 golden and bald eagles in the last five years, but the figure could be much higher, according to a new scientific study by government biologists.
The research represents one of the first tallies of eagle deaths attributed to the nation's growing wind energy industry, which has been a pillar of President Barack Obama's plans to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming. Wind power releases no air pollution.
But at a minimum, the scientists wrote, wind farms in 10 states have killed at least 85 eagles since 1997, with most deaths occurring between 2008 and 2012, as the industry was greatly expanding. Most deaths — 79 — were golden eagles that struck wind turbines. One of the eagles counted in the study was electrocuted by a power line.
The vice president of the American Bird Conservancy, Mike Parr, said the tally was "an alarming and concerning finding."
A trade group, the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement that the figure was much lower than other causes of eagle deaths. The group said it was working with the government and conservation groups to find ways to reduce eagle casualties.
Still, the scientists said their figure is likely to be "substantially" underestimated, since companies report eagle deaths voluntarily and only a fraction of those included in their total were discovered during searches for dead birds by wind-energy companies. The study also excluded the deadliest place in the country for eagles, a cluster of wind farms in a northern California area known as Altamont Pass. Wind farms built there decades ago kill more than 60 per year.
"It is not an isolated event that is restricted to one place in California, it is pretty widespread," said Brian Millsap, the national raptor coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and one of the study's authors.
The study excluded 17 eagle deaths for which there was not enough evidence. And, in a footnote, it says more golden and bald eagles have since been killed at wind energy facilities in three additional states — Idaho, Montana, and Nevada.
It's unclear what toll the deaths could be having on local eagle populations. And while the golden eagle population is stable in the West, any additional mortality to a long-lived species such as an eagle can be a "tipping point," Millsap said.
The research affirms an AP investigation in May, which revealed dozens of eagle deaths from wind energy facilities and described how the Obama administration was failing to fine or prosecute wind energy companies, even though each death is a violation of federal law.
Documents obtained by the AP under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act show that in two cases in Iowa federal investigators determined that a bald eagle had been killed by blunt force trauma with a wind turbine blade. But neither case led to prosecution.
In one of the cases, a bald eagle was found with a missing wing and a leg in a corn field near a turbine at EDP Renewables North America LLC's Pioneer Prairie facility in Iowa. But the report says, "due to the sensitive nature of wind farm investigations and the fact that this investigation documented first violation for EDPR in Midwest, no charges will be pursued at this time." The report lists four other golden eagle deaths at a wind farm operated by the company in Oregon. The company did not return emailed questions about the incidents from the AP.
The Fish and Wildlife Service, which employs the six researchers, has said it is investigating 18 bird-death cases involving wind-power facilities, and seven have been referred to the Justice Department. The authors noted the study's findings do not necessarily reflect the views of the agency, although some of their data was obtained from staff.
Meanwhile, the wind energy industry has pushed for, and the White House is currently evaluating, giving companies permission to kill a set number of eagles for 30 years. The change extends by 25 years the permit length in place now, but it was not subjected to a full environmental review because the administration classified it as an administrative change.
Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet's wingspan. Though the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds up to 170 mph at the tips, creating tornado-like vortexes.
Wind farms in two states, California and Wyoming, were responsible for 58 deaths, followed by facilities in Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Utah, Texas, Maryland and Iowa.
In all, 32 facilities were implicated. One in Wyoming was responsible for a dozen golden eagle deaths, the most at a single facility.
The research was published in the Journal of Raptor Research.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wind Company Officials To Attend Hornellsville Town Meeting

HORNELLSVILLE, NY -Hornellsville Town Supervisor Ken Isaman (R) has announced that Everpower wind company officials will be at Tuesday night's Hornellsville Town meeting at 7pm. Source

Monday, September 09, 2013

First Wind Energy signs on with SunZia developer

The developer of a planned $1.2 billion transmission project that will cross parts of Arizona and New Mexico has signed an anchor tenant.

SunZia Transmission says First Wind Energy has signed a letter of intent to reserve up to 1,500 megawatts of capacity on the transmission line. That will allow First Wind to move the electricity it plans to generate in central New Mexico to other markets.

SunZia project manager Tom Wray says interest for transmission service from renewable generators has exceeded available capacity.

Permitting and siting of the 500-mile-long transmission line has been in the making for years. There has been debate surrounding a section that would cross White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico.

A federal agency is expected to issue a final decision by October.  Source

Read more here:

Friday, September 06, 2013

First Wind agrees to take 1,500 MW on New Mexico-Arizona power line project

Boston-based First Wind has agreed to take up to 1,500 MW of transmission capacity on the proposed 500-kV SunZia power line project slated to run between New Mexico and Arizona, the line's developer said Friday.

First Wind is developing high-capacity wind generation projects in central New Mexico. The $1.5 billion SunZia project will run about 515 miles from eastern New Mexico to central Arizona and is mainly designed to deliver renewable generation to Arizona and California.

SunZia must complete the siting process before the projects can move ahead. "If SunZia can resolve its siting challenges, First Wind plans to accelerate the development of this project in central New Mexico," said Kurt Adams, First Wind's executive vice president and chief development officer.

The US Department of Defense is concerned that the proposed route for the project would interfere with operations at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The Bureau of Land Management issued a final environmental impact statement on the $1.5 billion project in June, and SunZia expects a record of decision to be released by October.

SunZia developers plan to seek permits for the project from regulators in Arizona and New Mexico.

SouthWestern Power Group, a Phoenix-based merchant developer, is spearheading the project. SPG is owned by MMR Group, a construction firm based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Other project partners include: Shell WindEnergy, which is developing wind projects in central New Mexico, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Tucson Electric Power and Salt River Project.

The developers are considering two major options for the project: two 500-kV AC lines with about 3,000 MW capacity or one 500-kV AC line coupled with a 500-kV DC line that would have about 4,500 MW capacity. The line would have three substations in New Mexico and two in Arizona, where renewable developers could interconnect.

The project developers plan to start building SunZia in 2015 and to possibly start operating the line in 2017.

First Wind to appeal Bowers Wind rejection

The Massachusetts-based First Wind plans to appeal a Department of Environmental Protection's decision to deny the company a permit for a wind farm on Bowers Mountain in eastern Penobscot County.

The Bangor Daily News reported the company argues regulators created a visual standard for its proposed project that does not exist in state law and ignored testimony of an expert on staff.

That expert told the DEP that the project avoided an adverse visual impact on the surrounding mountains and lakes by a narrow margin. The department heard that testimony before issuing its recommendation of the project's denial in August.

The company previously revised its proposal at that site, reducing 27 turbines to 16 turbines in an effort to allay concerns about the project's scenic impact.


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Green-Energy Preferences Via Partnership Status Stalls

Bipartisan U.S. legislation to allow renewable-energy companies to use a type of partnership structure popular with oil and gas drillers has been stalled by debate over a green-energy tax credit.
Master limited partnerships provide conventional energy companies with tax benefits and access to cheap capital. Houston-based oil and gas company Apache Petroleum Co., the first master limited partnership, was created by its parent company, the Houston-based Apache Corp. (APA), in 1981, according to a 1987 report by the Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation.

Renewable energy projects, though, are ineligible to organize under the structure, Paul Gaynor, chief executive officer of Boston-based developer First Wind Holdings Inc., told Bloomberg BNA.
“I think it’s kind of an artifact of history,” Gaynor said. Still, “as the wind industry got bigger and bigger and was looking for ways of bringing down the cost of capital, they looked around for what other industries were using.”

To address that, Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, introduced the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act (S. 795), which would expand the types of projects allowed to organize as an master limited partnerships. The structure could be used by renewable energy projects mentioned in Sections 45 and 48 of the tax code, namely wind, solar, hydropower, fuel cells and biomass.

Production Credit

The bill has been held up by the debate over the production tax credit for clean-energy projects, a priority of the wind-energy industry, which is set to expire in coming months.

Coon’s bill appeals to low-tax proponents and green-energy crusaders alike because it would allow companies to avoid double taxation and gives them better access to capital markets while offering incentives to invest in clean energy.

The Senate bill’s co-sponsors include Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Kansas Republican Jerry Moran and Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow.

Coons has said the Obama administration supports the legislation. The companion bill in the House (H.R. 1696) was introduced by Representative Ted Poe, a Texas Republican.

Goodwill for the proposal on both sides of the aisle -- as well as a campaign led by renewable energy companies to move the bill forward -- could falter unless the industry and key Republicans in Congress can hammer out a compromise on whether to preserve the coveted production tax credit or allow a company to claim it while also organizing as a master partnership.

Subsidy Issue

“Of the Republicans who support it, some of them only support it on the condition that the subsidies that are [currently] given would be repealed or set aside as part of the bill passing,” Pavel Molchanov, an alternative energy analyst with Raymond James, told BNA.

Lawmakers are focused on the federal renewable energy production tax credit, a per-kilowatt hour tax credit for electricity generated by renewable sources, Molchanov said. That isn’t something most in the renewable industry are willing to cede, Gaynor said.

“We view the MLP [bill] as complimentary to the PTC, not a trade,” he said.

The American Wind Energy Association, the industry’s main trade group, supports the master partnership bill, while saying in a June 11 letter to lawmakers that continuing the production tax credit is its top priority and that the group will “vigorously oppose” efforts to link passage of the partnership bill with ending the production tax credit or reducing its value.

Prior Effort

Legislation similar to the current partnership bills was introduced in the last Congress and failed to pass.

The production tax credit was extended at the beginning of 2013 under the American Taxpayer Relief Act (Pub. L. No. 112-240), but as part of discussions surrounding a potential tax overhaul, the Senate Finance Committee released a discussion draft exploring an option to replace the credit with increased expensing or accelerated depreciation (81 DTR G-9, 4/26/13).

Tough odds in Congress aren’t discouraging First Wind and other renewable energy companies from lobbying efforts to advance the partnership legislation. A group of renewable energy companies spearheaded by First Wind formed the 13-member Financing American Investment in Renewables (FAIR) coalition in May.

Parity Bill

“We’re meeting with staff members and people from the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, and laying the groundwork for a discussion,” said Gaynor, who was last in Washington in July to pitch the partnership idea to lawmakers.

Gaynor said the FAIR Coalition was working with Coons on moving his bill, and arguing that renewables should get access to the same cheap capital that is financing the rapid growth in natural gas development.

The master partnership structure is often used in developing oil and gas pipeline projects, and increasingly they help finance projects in the rapidly expanding hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, field.

If renewables firms have access to that amount of capital and at that cost of capital, “we could be doing a lot more and it would be more cost effective to consumers,” said Gaynor.