SALT LAKE CITY — Rocky Mountain Power has finalized a second deal this month to buy solar power from renewable energy developer First Wind, based in Boston.
Rocky Mountain Power, a unit of PacifiCorp, will buy 320 megawatts from four solar developments in Utah known as the Four Brothers. The company also agreed earlier to buy the power generated from First Wind’s nearby 20-megawatt Seven Sisters solar projects. The purchases were made in connection with the utility company’s obligation under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, or PURPA.
“It is with great excitement that we announce this second set of major agreements for cost-competitive and locally produced solar energy in Utah,” said First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor in a statement. “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.”
Construction on the four solar projects is slated to begin in 2015 and will bring an estimated 500 jobs to southern Utah. Additionally, approximately $66 million in direct property and income taxes will be generated by the project over 20 years.
“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 Gov. 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.”
First Wind has been invested in Southern Utah projects for nearly 10 years. The company pursued a new field of renewable energy – solar power – in 2013 with the “Seven Sisters” portfolio in Utah, along with projects in Massachusetts and Hawaii. Seven Sisters combined with Four Winds will be the largest collection of solar projects developed by First Wind’s new solar division, First Wind Solar Group.
“We are excited to be part of Utah’s clean energy revolution, which will transform this rural part of Southern Utah into a hub of renewable energy production,” said Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney. “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 and tax revenue that will help support our community, schools and other municipal needs. We have been fortunate to partner with First Wind for nearly a decade now as part of its wind development efforts and we are very pleased to expand our collaboration into solar energy.”