First Wind and Rocky Mountain Power finalize an agreement to develop the “Four Winds” solar project, which combined with their “Seven Sisters” project will be Utah’s largest solar project to date.
First Wind, an independent renewable energy company, has been involved with the communities of Southern Utah for nearly ten years. The high school students in the Town of Milford have helped First Wind with developing, constructing, and operating the company’s 306 MW wind Milford wind project, and offers a scholarship program for local students in both Beaver and Milford counties.
Now First Wind has a new project in store for Southern Utah: a planned 320 MW of new solar projects, announced after the four 20-year power purchase agreements with Rocky Mountain Power were finalized. Rocky Mountain Power’s purchase is made in connection with the company’s obligation under the Federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), and follows seven similar PURPA agreements for First Wind’s 20 MW “Seven Sisters” project.
For this project, Rocky Mountain Power will buy the output of the planned 320 MW “Four Brothers” solar development, which consists of four separate 80 MW project sites. Three of these sites will be in Beaver County, and one in Iron County. Combined, they they would be the largest solar project in Utah to date, generating more than 800,000 MW-hours per year — equivalent to the electricity used in about 90,000 Utah homes each year. Construction will begin in 2015, and the target completion date is 2016.
“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. 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,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind.
Along with providing locally produced renewable energy, the projects will also create approximately 500 construction jobs, and generate approximately 66 million in direct property and income taxes over 20 years. This will help spur economic growth, in rural communities in particular. “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 tax revenue that will help support our community, schools, and other municipal needs,” said Beaver County Comissioner Mark Whitney.
Four Brothers and Seven Sisters will be the largest collection of solar projects to be developed by First Wind’s new solar division, First Wind Solar group. “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. “Today it adds Iron County to the list. Perhaps more importantly, because this project’s electricity will serve Utah directly, the project will add value for all Utahns for decades to come. We’re glad to see that large scale solar has finally come to Utah.”