First Wind has started construction of its 148 MW Oakfield Wind project, located in Aroostook County, Maine.
‘First Wind is excited to be building the Oakfield Wind project, which is not only our sixth project in Maine, but what will be our largest project to bring clean, cost-competitive renewable energy to New England,’ said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind, during a ground-breaking ceremony. ‘The Oakfield project has been something we've wanted to build for almost a decade, and we're thrilled to say that it will be finished by the end of next year.’
First Wind says that once completed, the project will provide $27 million in tax and community benefit payments to the Town of Oakfield and the surrounding communities over the next 20 years. Earlier this year, the developer made the first community payment in the amount of $600,000 as part of a benefit agreement.
Dale Morris, Oakfield town manager, said during the ceremony, "The Town of Oakfield has already experienced first-hand the economic benefits this project brings to Aroostook County. Nearly 90 percent of the funds from First Wind's first community payment were used for tax relief for town residents, and the town will soon be investing property tax dollars into the community's infrastructure – new road work, a new fire station and other capital improvements."
The wind farm will be situated on the low-lying ridges of the Oakfield Hills and feature 48 Vestas V-112 turbines. First Wind expects the project to create about 300 direct, full-time jobs during construction and reach commercial operations by the end of 2015. The project's output is slated to be sold to four Massachusetts utilities as part of a 15-year contract.