First Wind pitches $100M Maine wind farm

First Wind is seeking permission to build a 16-turbine wind project in Maine.

First Wind is seeking permission to build a 16-turbine wind project in Maine. 

Officials at First Wind in Boston say there’s one big reason the company has lasted a decade now, while others in the clean energy space have failed in recent years: Namely, they sell energy, not a just piece of the energy supply chain.

The clean energy industry has been hit with the bankruptcies of solar panel manufacturers Solyndra and Evergreen last year, and, just last month, that of Boston-based battery-maker A123. GT Advanced Technologies Inc. in New Hampshire said it was cutting jobs in preparation for what it said would be a “challenging” 2013.

First Wind has faced headwinds of its own. The company’s most recent proposal, the Bowers Wind project located in the Penobscot and Washington counties of northern Maine, was voted down this spring after opposition from nearby property-owners.

But the 185-employee company has grown in revenue since it was founded in 2002, and is now pitching a scaled-down version of the Bowers Wind project which it hopes to have approved by early next year. If approved, it would be the company’s 16th in operation or under construction. Neil Kiely, director of development for First Wind, told Mass High Tech that the company’s seen success in a sector known for headline-grabbing collapses because it works with a proven technology, and the end product is simply electricity.

“One thing that distinguishes us (from other energy companies like A123) is that we are an independent power producer with real revenue,” said Kiely. “We don’t make widgets, and hope other people buy our widgets.”

Read more in Mass High Tech.

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