Onshore Wind Farms First Wind creates new green jobs in Utah.

Published on June 22nd, 2014 | by Tina Casey


First Wind Blows Up Green Jobs With 320 MW Buy

June 22nd, 2014 by  

The major wind developer First Wind is best known for you guessed it, wind power, but with a new 320 megawatt deal in Utah the company has begun to flex its solar muscles, too. That’s great news for green jobs in Utah, as the new solar development is expected to pour dollars and jobs into the state’s economy.

The new First Wind solar project also adds a big solar feather to the cap of well-known wind power fan and green jobs creator Warren Buffett. The utility Rocky Mountain Power already has dibs on all 320 MW, and if that name doesn’t ring a bell check out its parent company, the legendary investor’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy group.

First Wind creates 500 green jobs in Utah.

Wind Farm courtesy of First Wind.

Green Jobs For Utah…

The new First Wind Utah solar project follows a pattern similar to First Wind’s solar project in Massachusetts, which launched last year (First Wind is headquartered in Boston, btw).

The Massachusetts project is relatively small, at a combined 17 MW pulling together sites in two different communities.

First Wind’s previous solar project in Utah also clocked in at the small end of the scale. That would be the somewhat ironically named “Seven Sisters,” consisting of seven separate photovoltaic arrays in two different counties (not seven different oil companies, as the name suggests). The seven combined add up 20 MW .

With that solar development experience under its belt, First Wind has scaled things up considerably for the 320 MW Utah solar project, which covers four sites in Beaver and Iron Counties.

Dubbed “Four Brothers,” the new project will consist of four 80 MW sites, three in Beaver County and one in Iron County.

According to First Wind, that provides the southern part of Utah with a total of 650 MW of clean energy if you add Seven Sisters, Four Brothers, and the company’s existing Milford Wind project all together.

Construction on Four Brothers is expected to start in 2015, generating 500 construction jobs. It will also pump $66 million in property and income taxes into the state’s economy over the 20 year lifespan of the power purchase agreement, building up a green jobs ripple effect.

Here’s Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney waxing enthusiastic about the impact on his rural county:

We are excited to be part of Utah’s clean energy revolution, which will transform this rural part of Southern Utah into a hub of renewable energy production. In addition to the clean energy, these solar projects will be a boon for our local economy through hundreds of construction jobs and new property and tax revenue that will help support our community, schools and other municipal needs.

We have been fortunate to partner with First Wind for nearly a decade now as part of its wind development efforts and we are very pleased to expand our collaboration into solar energy.

…But Not For Thee, Ohio

Is it just us, or did we catch Commissioner Whitney rubbing Ohio’s nose in it? While Utah was celebrating hundreds of new green jobs, just last week the Republican dominated Ohio state legislature passed — and Governor Kasich signed into law — two bills that effectively killed the Ohio wind industry.

That’s not just bad news for the wind industry, it could also have a ripple effect on the solar market. As First Wind’s foray into the solar market shows, companies that stake out turf in one form of renewable energy are learning lessons and gaining experience in areas that translate into other forms of renewable energy.

First Wind laid the groundwork for its Utah solar deals with its previous wind projects, including a healthy dose of community relations in the form of scholarships and learning opportunities for local high school students, on top of ongoing jobs and other economic contributions.

Well, it’s not likely that First Wind will be poking around Ohio any time soon.


As for why the peoples’ representatives would kill the wind industry in the very state that the inventor of wind-generated electricity called home, that’s a good question. The wind industry has a solid track record for generating green jobs, including a vigorous recruitment and job training program for veterans.

Here’s one clue. According to the American Wind Energy Association, Ohio is — or was, until last week — a hotbed of green job creation in the wind industry:

Ohio was one of the top five fastest growing states for wind capacity additions in 2012, with 313 MW added in 2012 and over 54,000 MW in wind resource potential. In addition, the Buckeye State leads the country in wind-related manufacturing – with more than 60 facilities (or more than 1 in every 10 in the US) producing components for the wind industry.

Who could hate it?

We for one were shocked — shocked! — to find that lobbying by the Koch brothers has going on in Ohio, but there you have it.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • This is great, but Mr. Buffett better get on it and fast. Here’s some whitesheet nuggets on one of his other company, BNSF:


    2.2 million coal shipments out of the Powder River Basin. Other nuggets: Bakken crude oil enough to fill 650,000 cars every day. And refined oil products like asphalt to pave a road along the equator – four times around.

    Mid America’s at 33,000 gigawatt hours for 2013.

    Let me see here. 2.2 million coal shipments per year. At 120 tons per shipment. Assume 1.8 MWh per ton of coal. That would be 475,000 GWh of electricity. A little help, here?

    Within the B-H portfolio, coal seems to be beating out wind at over 10 to 1, based on generation. Not bad. It better be 5 to 1 after the recent wind power investment announcement. Not simply the same ratio, by doubling of coal shipments.

    • TinaCasey

      Right you are, MB. There is no such thing as bad energy, just out of date energy. In that regard it’s like turning an ocean liner around. Won’t happen overnight but Buffett and other energy investors like him are part of what is making it happen. If you ever wondered what it was like to live though the transition from actual horsepower to fossil horsepower, this is it.

      • I never wondered about the horse power transition. You weren’t writing image and sales copy back then, were you?

        • TinaCasey

          Ouch! I guess I walked right into that one.

          • I do sales and technical as an engineer. I’d never want to sell anything to me. Anything tied to environmental is about 80% sales and 20% technical. It’s a weird business. Your work here at cleantechnica is awesome. We’re the peanut gallery here in comment land.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” 80% sales and 20% technical”

            What does that mean?

          • Great question. If you’ll indulge me, I’ll prepare a long winded answer.

            For a typical build of say a private sector factory, the overall construction cost is around (big sweeping average here) 20 percent non construction and 80 percent construction. Non construction is sales, planning, development (sales), design, etc. The soft stuff. Construction would be construction management, labor, equipment, materials, etc to build the thing.

            Environmental projects can flip that distribution. Mainly because there are many more stakeholders, more emotion, more consultants, more politics, more fear, more legal (like a lot more). This isn’t always the case, but id say the many environmental projects comes down to about 40 soft and 60 implementation or construction. Maybe 50/50. Department of Energy clean ups, like at Hanford, Oak Ridge, the soft cost to implementation of environmental projects (mostly remediation) is about 75% to 25%.

            This is one reason, industry complains about environmental protection and remediation. However, they have no one to blame but themselves. They’ll spent 10 times on legal costs to not have to apply pollution control or do site remediation. Simply on principle.

            Like it or not, renewables are being deployed as an environmental project right now. Yes, there are pure energy and power market forces coming into play. But much of our interest in renewables is due to climate change, an environmental problem. Not to mention water and air quality, because that’s another issue.

            Energy and environmental use many layers of consultants and contractors. Major oil, coal and oil and gas independents, don’t have big technical staffs. They use many layers of consultants, engineering firms, contractors, partners, consortia, etc to get stuff done. All those layers or consultants and contractors are sales driven. Therefore, sales and clients are the thing. Not technical. Almost like an advertising agency. Some of the big engineering and consulting firms don’t even do technical anymore. The big dollar and high billing rate work is pure consulting. Low risk, high reward handwaving and policy stuff. Subconsultants and contractors don’t even work directly for fossil fuel. They work more and more for other consulting and contracting firms. Thus, more sales and more client representation goes into the mix.

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