Monthly Archives: August 2016

NRG Energy, a large power company headquartered in Texas and New Jersey, is set to acquire the assets of SunEdison’s solar and wind projects in several states, including a wind proposal in Maine that has attracted strong opposition.

But whether the Maine wind farm, called Somerset Wind, actually gets built any time soon depends in part on the outcome of a selection process for renewable energy proposals being conducted jointly by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The three states are collaborating to identify renewable energy projects that will allow them to meet their clean energy goals.

These projects are in various stages of development. In Maine, Somerset Wind is a 26-turbine proposal near Moosehead Lake that’s rated at 85 megawatts. It has no permits, but according to SunEdison’s submission in the New England Clean Energy RFP, it’s “one of the most attractive sites in the Northeast for its combination of scale and quality of wind resource.”

The Somerset Wind project would be built on forestland ridges in three townships: Johnson Mountain, Chase Stream and Misery.

An email sent Wednesday to a spokesman for NRG seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned. But Richard McDonald, president of the anti-wind citizen group Saving Maine, said NRG’s acquisition was expected.

“Obviously, we’ve been waiting quite a while for the other shoe to drop with SunEdison,” he said.

McDonald also is a board member of the Moosehead Region Futures Committee. The group is opposed to Somerset Wind because it fears views of the turbines will discourage tourism in an area that’s trying to become a world-class recreation destination.

Somerset Wind is among 51 power proposals, including solar arrays and hydro dams, that are being evaluated by southern New England states as part of a giant clean-energy package that could total 600 megawatts, enough to power about 98,000 homes. Each project is vying for power-purchase agreements, which are considered crucial to attracting investors.

NRG’s pending acquisition would help write the latest chapter in the evolution of FirstWind, the former Boston-based company that until a few years ago was Maine’s dominant wind-power developer.

SunEdison and its power-plant holding company, TerraForm Power, bought FirstWind in 2014 for $2.4 billion as part of a massive expansion plan. But SunEdison took on too much debt buying companies and filed for bankruptcy in April. It began shedding assets to raise money.

Today, four of its projects – Mars Hill, Rollins, Bull Hill and Stetson – are owned by TerraForm. Two others, Oakfield and Bingham, were sold last year to an affiliate of J.P Morgan, the global financial services company.

In June, Pattern Energy Group of San Francisco took over the rights to King Pine, a 600-megawatt proposal in southern Aroostook County that would be the largest wind farm in New England, with 174 turbines.

But that project, too, is in the Clean Energy RFP and would need to be selected to win a power-purchase agreement.

“Unless these projects win overpriced, mandated government contracts, the market cannot support them,” said Chris O’Neil, a spokesman for Friends of Maine’s Mountains. “They’re taking a risk that they are purchasing a performing asset. It may or may not happen.”

Original Article:

The recent sale of a wind power development site in Aroostook County to out-of-state investors has an anti-wind development group in Somerset County concerned that a similar scenario could unfold for a planned project in the Moosehead Lake area.

A federal judge last week approved the sale of SunEdison’s King Pine project, a planned 600-megawatt wind farm in southern Aroostook County, to San Francisco-based Pattern Energy for $26.5 million, according to federal court filings.

The sale is the latest move by SunEdison, which declared bankruptcy in April, to rid itself of its Maine assets. In 2015, the company also sold its Bingham and Oakfield wind projects to a division of J.P. Morgan and withdrew a Department of Environmental Protection application for a project in Hancock County.

A 26-turbine wind farm has been planned by SunEdison in the Misery Ridge area of Somerset County, near Moosehead Lake.

Terraform Power, a subsidiary of SunEdison, owns four other projects in Maine – in Mars Hill, Stetson, Blue Hill and Rollins.

John Lamontagne, a spokesman for SunEdison in Massachusetts, said that he could not speculate on the possible sale of other SunEdison projects in response to concerns from a board member of the Moosehead Region Futures Committee, an anti-wind group dedicated to fighting wind development in the Moosehead Lake area.

Richard McDonald, a board member of the Moosehead Regions Future Committee and president of the anti-wind group Saving Maine, said there’s “a ton of uncertainty” surrounding the Somerset County wind farm.

“We’re looking at a project that would permanently alter the landscape and the natural setting of one of the most important tourism-based regions in the state,” McDonald said.

McDonald said groups he’s affiliated with are both opposed to the Somerset County wind farm proposal.

The Moosehead committee has previously said the proposed Somerset wind development is a “threat to the region’s tourism-based economy and the livelihoods of thousands of local residents.”

“They could sell these assets for 20 cents on the dollar and we could have a whole other set of circumstances with another out-of-state wind developer coming in,” McDonald said, referring to the King Pine project sale to the California-based firm.

Weyerhaeuser, a timber company that owns the land where the Somerset Wind project is being proposed, last month dropped opposition to some communities in the area leaving a fast-track wind development zone that would have made it easier for the wind farm to be constructed. But a spokesman for Weyerhauser said last month that the decision to opt out of the expedited zoning area is not related to the development of the Somerset Wind project and would not have an impact on it.

An application for the Somerset Wind Project has not yet been filed with the Department of Environmental Protection.