May 28, 2014

Millbury solar project complete

Boston-based renewable energy company First Wind said Wednesday that a solar project in Millbury, which will provide power to University of Massachusetts campuses in Worcester and Lowell, is complete and commercial operations have begun.

First Wind announced last fall it would build the 3-megawatt (MW) facility in Millbury, along with a similar facility in Warren. The Warren facility is nearly complete, and operations are expected to begin there next month. The Millbury project is the first the company has completed in Massachusetts.

"We are thrilled to have our first solar project up and running, providing clean, cost-competitive renewable energy to customers in … Massachusetts," First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor said in a statement.

The UMass system signed a 30-year power purchase agreement with First Wind, which is expected to save a combined $1 million in annual energy costs at both the medical school and UMass Lowell over the course of the agreement, according to First Wind.

In exchange for permission to construct the solar project, First Wind has agreed to pay the Town of Millbury $50,000 a year in tax payments, and $130,000 to the Town of Warren for the larger, 14-MW project.

First Wind operates several wind projects in the Northeastern and Western U.S., including Hawaii, but the Millbury and Warren projects are the first completed installations under its First Wind Solar Group division, which was formed to explore solar development opportunities in those regions in its existing wind markets.

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