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June 27, 2017

Bingham Wind owner names $1M conservation grant recipients

Courtesy / Novatus Energy
Courtesy / Novatus Energy
The Bingham wind farm, owned by Novatus Energy LLC, is Maine's largest at 185 megawatts (MW). Novatus announced recipients of $1 million in conservation funding, the second tranche of a $2.5 million fund set up as part of an agreement between Friends of Maine's Mountains and Bingham's developer, SunEdison's First Wind.

Maine's largest wind-farm owner will give a combined $1 million to 13 beneficiaries for land and resource conservation projects.

Bingham Wind owner Novatus Energy LLC, which is based in New York City, will distribute the money out of a $2.5 million conservation fund, announced in 2015 along with the recipients of the first $1.5 million.

The fund was established as part of an agreement between Friends of Maine's Mountains (FMM), a nonprofit that had led legal opposition against the Bingham project before it was built, and its developer, SunEdison's First Wind.

As announced on Friday, the remaining $1 million in funding will go towards the following groups: the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, the Coastal Mountains Land Trust, the Forest Society of Maine, the Freeport Conservation Trust, the Mahoosuc Land Trust, the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, Maine Huts & Trails, Project SHARE, the Western Foothills Land Trust, the Bureau of Parks and Land, the city of Augusta, and the town of Fayette.

Four of the groups — the Mahoosuc Land Trust, Forest Society of Maine, Appalachian Land Trust and the Atlantic Salmon Federation — had also received first-round funding.

Stacey Fitts, Novatus Energy's director of asset management, told Mainebiz that it had taken a few months to finalize the latest beneficiaries from FMM's shortlist.

"One of the things that surprised me was how many different activities are going on across the state in conservation," he said.

Rand Stowell, FMM''s founder and board chairman, said in a statement that the projects selected for funding "represent important conservation achievements in Maine."

'Good place to be'

Novatus has a 1.6-gigawatt portfolio of wind and solar projects across the United States.

Asked whether the company would be interested in making further acquisitions in Maine, Fitts said it is always reviewing potential projects across all regions.

"We are the largest wind owner in Maine now, which is a good place to be," he said, adding: "Obviously we're not going to discount a project that would come along."

Construction at Bingham was completed in December. At 185 megawattts (MW), it is Maine's largest wind farm.

Elsewhere in Maine, Novatus owns wind farms at Oakfield (148 MW), and Hancock (51MW), which began commercial operations in November 2015 and December 2016, respectively.

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