First Wind Closes on $236M Loan for Hawaii’s Largest Wind Project

by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor First Wind announced it has obtained $236 million in financing to develop Hawaii’s largest wind-energy project. The 69 megawatt (MW) Kawailoa Wind farm will be built on Kamehameha Schools’ Kawailoa Plantation lands on the North Shore of Oahu. Once complete, the wind energy facility will have the capacity to power the equivalent [...]

by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

First Wind announced it has obtained $236 million in financing to develop Hawaii’s largest wind-energy project.

The 69 megawatt (MW) Kawailoa Wind farm will be built on Kamehameha Schools’ Kawailoa Plantation lands on the North Shore of Oahu. Once complete, the wind energy facility will have the capacity to power the equivalent of approximately 14,500 homes, satisfying about five percent of Oahu’s annual electricity demand.

A subsidiary of First Wind obtained funding through a loan of $220 million and $16 million in letters of credit. Union Bank took part in the financing as administrative agent and joint lead arranger, along with Bayern LB, Rabobank and Siemens Financial Services. CIBC and CoBank also participated, the company said in a recent statement.

Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind, stated that the financing is an important milestone for the construction of the Kawailoa Wind farm. “Hawaii has a genuine commitment to having more renewable energy on the islands, and these banks recognize that this project will be an important component toward reaching that goal. We appreciate the commitment of our financial partners, which will help First Wind deliver clean, renewable energy for the benefit of Oahu residents and businesses,” he said.

In December 2011, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approved a power purchase agreement between First Wind and the Hawaiian Electric Company. Under the terms of the agreement, First Wind subsidiary Kawailoa Wind Power will sell the electricity generated by the wind farm’s thirty 2.3 MW Siemens wind turbines to Hawaiian Electric at set prices over 20 years.

On February 24, First Wind held the groundbreaking ceremony for the Kawailoa Wind farm. On this occasion, Dick Rosenblum, Hawaiian Electric Company president and CEO, commented that the project represents a significant step toward reducing the impact of imported oil on customers.

Headquartered in Boston, First Wind is an independent wind energy company exclusively focused on the development, financing, construction, ownership and operation of utility-scale wind energy projects. The Kawailoa wind farm near Haleiwa is the company’s fourth project in Hawaii. First Wind owns and operates the 30-megawatt Kaheawa wind farm on Maui and the 30-megawatt Kahuku wind farm on Oahu, and it is currently developing another project on Maui.