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First Wind Applauds Clean Energy Vision in State of the Union and Calls for Level Playing Field with Fossil Fuels

First Wind, an independent U.S.-based renewable energy company, today commended the clean energy vision outlined by President Obama in the State of the Union, and called for bi-partisan leadership to create a level playing field for clean energy and fossil fuels.

Immediately following the extension of the federal tax credits for wind energy by Congress last month, First Wind announced it is poised to increase its operating portfolio of wind projects by 50 percent in the coming years, and sees a pathway for more cost-competitive renewable energy if consistent policy can be implemented.

“Although the recent extension of the tax credits was key for the industry, we must now look toward more stable policy for wind energy to avoid the artificial boom and bust cycle for wind project development and construction that occurs as the tax credits expire,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “To realize the clean energy vision outlined in the State of the Union, we need to put in place a predictable policy that allows access to capital for renewable energy in the same manner oil, gas, and coal have operated for decades.”

In part because of the race to build before the end of wind’s tax credits, 2012 was the strongest year ever for the U.S. wind energy industry, with 8,380 MW installed during the fourth quarter alone according to the American Wind Energy Association. Wind energy represented 42 percent of all new generating capacity in the U.S., the report stated. But at the same time this record amount of wind power went online, U.S. factories and companies could not plan for continued growth in 2013 without predictable policy in place.

“Looking toward 2013 and beyond, the extension of the wind energy tax credits will allow for the continued growth of cost-competitive wind energy in the United States. However, additional certainty around federal policy will set the stage for long-term growth, especially because stable, predictable policy creates increased efficiencies within the industry,” Gaynor said.

For example, a recent report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance found that the cost of onshore wind is cheaper than nuclear and approaching the cost of coal-fired plants, when you factor in the large subsidies those industries receive.

In 2012 alone, five First Wind projects achieved commercial operations with the total capacity to generate 244 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable energy. Nearly 1,000 people worked on the construction and development of the five wind projects, which created new jobs and generated revenue for local companies at the five project sites in Hawaii, Maine, New York and Washington. In 2013, First Wind already has a number of projects in late stages of development that could be ready for early construction work including several projects in Maine, along with possible projects in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah and Hawaii.

“Clean energy and economic opportunity are not partisan issues,” added Gaynor. “Bi-partisan efforts to create a more predictable federal policy will enable First Wind and other renewable energy companies around the country to invest millions of dollars of investment in local communities over the next few years. As the President said last night, his primary goal is to put in place policies that will create jobs and invest in our nation. A predictable federal policy will translate into jobs, new sources of revenue for towns and communities, and new sources of clean energy at a competitive price for consumers.”

First Wind projects that it will employ thousands of people to build new projects over the next few years, generating millions of dollars in investment and new revenue for host communities and others, while also delivering cost-competitive clean energy to more homes across the country. First Wind currently operates 980 MW of wind projects in six states across the United States. In addition, First Wind is also exploring possible projects in other areas of renewable energy to complement the company’s wind power portfolio.

About First Wind

First Wind is an independent renewable energy company exclusively focused on the development, financing, construction, ownership and operation of utility-scale renewable energy projects in the United States. Based in Boston, First Wind has wind projects in the Northeast, the West and Hawaii, with combined capacity of 980 megawatts (MW) – enough to power almost 300,000 homes each year. For more information on First Wind, please visit www.firstwind.com or follow us on Twitter @FirstWind.

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