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June 18, 2012

First Wind, Emera close joint venture deal

Massachusetts-based First Wind Holdings and Nova Scotia-based Emera Inc. have closed a $361 million deal to jointly own and operate wind energy projects in the Northeast through a new company called Northeast Wind Partners. First Wind now owns 51% of its wind portfolio through the new company, and Emera 49%.

First Wind's 385-megawatt portfolio of wind energy projects in the Northeast, including eight operating projects in three states, has been transferred to Northeast Wind Partners, according to a press release. First Wind will serve as the managing partner and will continue to operate the wind energy projects, as well as handle development of new wind projects. Emera Energy Services, an affiliate of the Canadian utility, will provide energy management services.

Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind, said the new venture allows the company to invest in new projects. Emera has invested a total of $211 million to acquire 49% of Northeast Wind Partners, and will make a $150 million loan to an intermediate subsidiary company of Northeast Wind Partners.

Chris Huskilson, president and CEO of Emera Inc., said the move supports the company's efforts to expand its Northeast presence. Emera is the owner of Maine utilities Bangor Hydro Electric Co. and Maine Public Service Co.

In April, the Maine Public Utilities Commission approved the venture, despite the staff recommendation to oppose it because it could lead to higher energy prices and the utilities giving preferential treatment to the new projects. Commissioners, however, said the economic benefits outweighed potential drawbacks. According to First Wind and Emera, the joint venture could lead to up to $3 billion in future economic investment in the region over the next few years.

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