First Wind's 105-MW Washington state wind project moves forward with US$210M financing; project mid-construction, expected to be online by end of 2012
December 19, 2011
– Wind project will create local tax revenues, work for small local businesses and clean energy for about 30,000 Northwest homes
First Wind, an independent U.S.-based wind energy company, today announced that it has obtained $210 million in financing for the company’s subsidiary, Palouse Wind, LLC, the owner of the 105 MW Palouse Wind project located in northern Whitman County, Washington. With financing in place, First Wind will continue on schedule with construction of the largest renewable energy facility in the county with the capacity to generate enough clean energy to power about 30,000 Northwest homes, equal to the total energy load of all of Whitman County.
“After nearly four years of preparation and permitting, we are very pleased to see the Palouse Wind project moving forward, providing a source of clean, renewable energy for Northwest residents and businesses,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “We appreciate the commitment of our financial partners and the support of Avista as our utility PPA partner. It is clear the financial markets view this development as a strong, viable, and well-planned wind project.”
“We’re excited to be building our first project in the Northwest, and we are grateful for the support we have received from the local community and Whitman County to help us advance this project, which will bring significant economic benefits to the region including local tax revenues and work for local businesses,” Gaynor added.
As part of the financing, Palouse Wind, LLC closed an approximate $170 million construction and term facility loan, and letters of credit of up to $40 million. KeyBank National Association (NYSE: KEY) served as the joint lead arranger and administrative agent, and Nordduetsche Landesbank Girozentrale, CoBank ACB, and Banco Santander served as joint lead arrangers.
“We are very pleased to have played a leading role in First Wind’s financing of the Palouse project,” said Andrew Redinger, managing director and head of KeyBanc Capital Markets Utility, Power & Renewable Energy practice. “We applaud First Wind’s long term dedication that brings significant investment to Eastern Washington. The financing of the Palouse project demonstrates the solid fundamentals of the wind project that will provide an excellent source of renewable power for Washington ratepayers.”
The project will feature 58 Vestas 1.8 MW wind turbines with a generating capacity of about 105 MW of electricity. The energy from the Palouse Wind project will power local homes and businesses through a power purchase agreement with Avista. Located on Naff Ridge between the town of Oakesdale and Route 195, the wind power generated from the project will interconnect to the Avista 230kV Benewah-to-Shawnee transmission line. This will be the first wind project built in Avista’s service territory and it will help Avista achieve its goal of meeting Washington State’s renewable portfolio standard.
The general contractor on the project, RMT, Inc., began construction in October 2011 and is hiring many Pacific Northwest-based businesses and subcontractors to work on the project. During construction, it is estimated that the project will create an average of 100-200 jobs and will result in $30 million of spending with local businesses in Whitman County and the Inland Northwest. Once Palouse Wind is operational, Whitman County will receive approximately $12 million over the next 20 years in property tax revenues, which can be used toward roads, schools, police and fire departments and more. The project is expected to be online and operational sometime before the end of 2012.
About First Wind
First Wind is an independent wind energy company exclusively focused on the development, financing, construction, ownership and operation of utility-scale wind projects in the United States. Based in Boston, First Wind has wind projects in the Northeast, the West and in Hawaii, with the capacity to generate up to 735 megawatts of power and projects under construction with the capacity to generate up to an additional 141 megawatts.
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