WASHINGTON– Marking a major milestone in the effort to spur private sector investments in clean energy and create new jobs for America’s workers, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced $502 million in the first round of awards from an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) program that provides cash assistance to energy production companies in place of earned tax credits. The new funding creates additional upfront capital, enabling companies to create jobs and begin construction that may have been stalled until now.
“The Recovery Act is investing in our long-term energy needs while creating jobs in communities around the country,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. “This renewable energy program will spur the manufacture and development of clean energy in urban and rural America, allowing us to protect our environment, create good jobs and revitalize our nation’s economy.”
The Stetson Wind Project is a wind power facility located in Washington County, Maine. First Wind’s Evergreen Wind Power of Danforth, received $40,441,471 for the Stetson wind farm. The project consists of 38 individual 1.5 MW GE SLE turbines, a substation, and O&M building, access roads and a 34.5kV collection system. As part of the project, a 38 mile transmission line was also constructed to connect Stetson Mountain to the regional electricity grid.
The Stetson Wind facility and Mars Hill give Maine New England’s distinction of being the top state producing the most wind electricity. Last winter Gov. John Baldacci visited the Stetson wind farm and vowed to help First Wind receive help from the federal government as Maine plans to export energy to New England.
The federal grant effectively gives First Wind the benefits of tax credits that would have been spread over the life of their Stetson Mountain project, but instead provides those credits in the form of an upfront grant.
“The economy and credit markets were nearly shut down earlier this year,” said Michael Alvarez, President and COO, First Wind. “With these grants, First Wind will reinvest in the US and Maine economy on new renewable energy projects that will create jobs, generate clean power, and help the United States gain energy independence. ”
Created under Section 1603 of the Recovery Act, the program is expected to provide more than $3 billion in financial support for clean energy projects by providing direct payments in lieu of tax credits. These payments will support an estimated 5,000 bio-mass, solar, wind, and other types of renewable energy production facilities in all regions of the country over the life of the program. As a result of this first round of funding, more than 2,000 Americans will have access to jobs in the renewable energy industry – both in construction and in manufacturing – while moving the nation closer to meeting the Administration’s goal of doubling renewable energy generation in the next few years.
Secretary Chu said, “These grants will help America’s businesses launch clean energy projects, putting Americans back to work in good construction and manufacturing jobs. The initiative will help double our renewable energy capacity over the next few years and make sure America leads the world in creating the clean energy economy of the future.”
The Treasury Department opened the application process for the 1603 program on July 31, 2009 and is today making the first awards in half the statutorily mandated turnaround time of 60 days. The following is a chart of projects funded as part of today’s announcement. Additional awards under the program will be announced in the coming weeks.