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First Wind, Rocky Mountain Power collaborate on clean energy deal

320 MW of new solar projects in Southern Utah expected to create 500 construction jobs, $66 million in local tax revenue and generate locally produced renewable energy.

First Wind has finalised four 20-year power purchase agreements with Rocky Mountain Power, a division of PacifiCorp and part of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.  As part of the power purchase agreements, Rocky Mountain Power will buy the output of the planned 320-megawatts “Four Brothers” solar development, which includes four, separate fully permitted 80 MW (AC) project sites. 

Rocky Mountain Power’s purchase is made in connection with its obligation under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, or PURPA, and follows seven (7) similar PURPA agreements for First Wind’s 20 MW (AC) “Seven Sisters” projects.  These four solar projects will be located at sites in Beaver and Iron Counties.

“These additional long-term contracts with Rocky Mountain Power will enable us to move forward quickly with what will be the largest solar development in Utah, and our largest solar project to date," said said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. "When combined with our nearby Milford Wind project and Seven Sisters Projects, we will have a capacity to generate nearly 650 MW of clean electricity while serving as a source of major economic activity for Southern Utah through good construction jobs and significant local tax revenues.”

The “Four Brothers” solar portfolio, which combined would be the largest solar development in Utah to date, includes four separate 80 MW (AC) solar photovoltaic projects, three of which are to be sited in Beaver County and one that will be located in Iron County.  Once complete, the combined generating capacity of the four projects will be more than 800,000 megawatt-hours per year, or equivalent to the electricity use of about 90,000 Utah homes per year.

“First Wind has been a great partner to the State of Utah for many years now, and a great partner to Millard and Beaver Counties, where its Milford Wind facility provides significant economic value,” said Cody Stewart, Energy Advisor to Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert. “Perhaps more importantly, because this project's electricity will serve Utah directly, the project will add value for all Utahns for decades to come." 

The start of major construction is slated to begin in 2015, with completion expected in 2016, the projects will create approximately 500 construction jobs.

“We are excited to be part of Utah’s clean energy revolution, which will transform this rural part of Southern Utah into a hub of renewable energy production,” said Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney. “In addition to the clean energy, these solar projects will be a boon for our local economy through hundreds of construction jobs and new property and tax revenue that will help support our community, schools and other municipal needs."

Combined, the “Four Brothers” and “Seven Sisters” solar project portfolio in Utah will be by far the largest collection of solar projects to be developed by First Wind’s new solar division, First Wind Solar Group.  Established to explore solar energy opportunities near the company’s wind projects in the West, Hawaii and the Northeast, First Wind Solar Group recently completed construction of a 3 MW (AC) project in Millbury, Mass. and a combined 14 MW (AC) solar project in Warren, Mass. First Wind Solar is also developing a 20 MW (AC) solar project in Mililani, Hawaii.

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Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity