First Wind gets OK to expand Maine wind farm

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Newton-based wind power developer First Wind Inc. says it has received approval from the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission for its proposed expansion of its Stetson Wind project, located near Danforth, Maine

The proposal seeks to add 17 turbines to the existing 38 turbines already in operation at the site, which is the largest utility-scale wind farm in New England. Such an expansion would boost the site’s capacity from 57 megawatts to 82.5 megawatts, or enough to power 23,000 homes.

As part of the development, officials at First Wind also reported the first phase of the Stetson project, which began operations this past January, brought $50 million to Maine and created 350 jobs, and the second phase is also expected to have a “significant economic impact” on the state.

Originally founded as UPC Wind in 1995, First Wind has amassed a portfolio of wind projects across the country, including the Stetson and Mars Hill projects in Main and others in the Midwest and Hawaii.

Last August, First Wind filed documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission expressing its intent to execute a $450 million initial public offering, though no offering date or share price has been announced.

According to its filings, the company has set a goal of reaching approximately 1,100 megawatts of operating capacity by the end of 2010 and 2,300 megawatts by 2013.

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