I recently found the listing of grants that have been awarded via Section 1603 of ARRA. This program is fortunately ending at the end of 2012, but any wind project that shows a "substantial" start on a project before then (such as beginning construction on an access road beyond just tree clearing) will be grandfathered in to this gift of taxpayer money. The Obama administration used the Recovery Act as a way to boost an industry that can't stand on its own. In lieu of the PTC for ten years, based on output, the Sec. 1603 gave outright cash worth 30% of a project's construction cost when it was accepted.
Here is the list of projects in Maine, the grant amount and the date awarded:
ARRA Sec.1603 Grants Awarded to Maine Wind Projects
Name of Project Grant Amount Date
Evergreen Wind Power III, LLC $53,246,347 12/29/2011
Evergreen Wind Power V, LLC $40,441,471 9/1/2009
Stetson Wind II, LLC $19,328,865 5/27/2010
TransCanada Maine Wind Development Inc. $44,591,705 3/24/2011
Notes: Evergreen III is the “Rollins Project" in Lincoln Lakes region; Evergreen V is the original Stetson Mt. project near Prentiss; the TransCanada is the Kibby Mt. project near Chain of Lakes & Eustis.
A few interesting notes. The Rollins Project, shown above, was always quoted as costing "about" $130 million. Yet if the ARRA grant is $53,246,347 and that is 30% of the total cost, then that inflates the total cost to $177,487,823, some $47 million more! What accounts for that? Surely the delay caused by opposition by Friends of Lincoln Lakes shouldn't account for that. Did actual cost exceed projections by that much? Did First Wind pad figures to maximize their cash grant? I believe it is worthy of investigation. In any event, that figure pushes the cost per MW of installed capacity (60 MW) to $2.958 million per MW and with initial capacity factor figures estimated by FERC & ISO-New England at 17%, the actual output cost soars to $17.4 million per MW!
The other point to make here is about Stetson II, which received a paltry $19,328,865 through ARRA. But this is the project that had been mothballed in 2009, with First Wind teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and no sources of financing. The initial round of Economic Stimulus by the Obama administration included cash grants to renewable energy companies. First Wind received $115 million, of which $40.4 million was allocated to finishing Stetson II. So add the two grants together and outright cash grants of taxpayer money to an unworthy company is $59.7 million for a 25.5 MW project less than half the size of Rollins. This is truly an outrage to support something that doesn't work, that does such environmental damage, at a time that we can't balance the Federal budget. It has to stop!
The last point is to remind everyone that the welfare to these companies provided by the taxpayers extends to the local level. Every one of the projects listed above receives Tax Increment Financing (TIF), whereby roughly half (depending on the specifics of the negotiated TIF) of the property taxes that would be owed during the lifetime of a project are rebated back to the developer. Stetson I & II has a TIF with Washington County; Kibby has a TIF with Franklin County; Rollins has TIFs with Lincoln, Lee, Winn, and Burlington. Use of TIF for wind projects is an outrageous mis-application of TIF as an economic development tool.