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First Wind, an independent U.S.-based renewable energy company, has made the first payment to the town of Oakfield, Maine in the amount of $600,000 as part of the community benefit agreement.

Situated about 2.5 miles from the center of Oakfield in Aroostook County, early construction on the 148 MW project began in late 2013. The Oakfield project will provide $12 million in community benefit payments over the next 20 years. In addition to the community benefit payments, First Wind is also scheduled to make about $15 million in tax payments over the next 20 years.

Throughout the development and planning phases, First Wind has worked very closely with the town and its Windpower Review Committee to solicit significant community input in designing the project and establishing a community benefit partnership. As part of the local review process, First Wind made a number of commitments to the town and incorporated those commitments into its original Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) application.

Ninety percent of the funds from this first payment from First Wind to the town will be used for tax relief for town residents. The town has other plans for future uses of funds.

First proposed in 2008, the Oakfield Wind project received unanimous approval from the Maine DEP in January of 2012. In 2011, town of Oakfield residents voted 81-21 to approve the tax and community benefit agreement. The power that will be generated by the Oakfield Wind project is contracted to be sold to Massachusetts customers of four utilities as part of a 15 year contract, and will generate enough clean energy at cost-competitive rates to power about 50,000 homes.

Major construction of the project is expected to start later this year, with a completion and generation date predicted for 2015.

Published in the May 2014 Edition of American Recycler News