Gusts Picking Up for Two New England Wind Companies

Last week’s incessant rain across New England brought with it some good news for two area wind power companies. In Rhode Island, the state government picked the subsidiary of a Newton, MA, wind company to build a $1 billion offshore wind farm, and a Vermont company developing a new, more efficient type of wind turbine announced a big venture infusion.

Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri announced Thursday that Deepwater Wind, a newly formed subsidiary of Newton, MA-based First Wind, had been selected from a group of seven competing wind developers to lead construction of a major offshore wind project. Plans call for the wind farm, whose location has yet to be determined, to generate 1.3 million megawatt hours per year of electricity, enough to cover almost one-sixth of the state’s electricity needs.

Carcieri’s announcement said the winning bid was selected based on cost, the qualifications of the bidders, and the number of jobs and the amount of tax revenue to be generated. Deepwater CEO Chris Brown said the company expects to invest approximately $1.5 billion to build an 800-employee facility in Quonset, RI, where support structures for the offshore wind turbines will be manufactured. The facility is envisioned as the hub for multiple offshore wind construction projects across the northeast.

At the other end of New England, Barre, VT-based Northern Power Systems said last Thursday that Boston-based Rockport Capital Partners and Allen & Company of New York led a Series A funding round that will bring the company $37 million.

Northern Power CEO Bud Cherry said in a statement that the cash would help the company to continue development of its wind-cooled permanent magnet turbine drive system, which the company says is more efficient than traditional wind turbines at lower wind speeds. The Series A round brings the company’s total venture funding to $56 million.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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