Electric group sells stake in Maine power plant

WESTFIELD- The Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC), of which Westfield Gas and Electric was once a part, announced that it sold its ownership stake in the W.F. Wyman Station Unit 4 in Yarmouth, Maine on July 19.

WG&E is no longer a member company of MMWEC, but it had retained its ownership stake in the plant until now. Westfield was one of 12 local municipalities that received power from the plant in Maine as part of MMWEC for 43 years. The other municipalities included Boylston, Holyoke, Hudson, Hull, Littleton, Marblehead, Middleborough, Middleton, North Attleborough, Shrewsbury, and Wakefield. Between the 12 municipalities, 3.7 percent of the plant’s electrical output, or 22 megawatts, were taken from the plant.

Marketing and Communications Specialist for Westfield Gas and Electric Lisa Stowe, said part of the reason for the sale was that the plant had lost profitability. The Wyman 4 plant produces electricity by burning oil, a practice Stowe said WG&E would rather avoid.

“It became clear that it was no longer profitable, because it is an oil burning electric plant that was rarely used because they don’t want to burn oil,” said Stowe, “We would rather burn natural gas, which is cleaner than oil, or use renewable sources of energy.”

Stowe noted that the sale should have little impact on the utility customers in Westfield, adding that WG&E has a “diverse” portfolio of other power sources.

“It basically means that the power we use in Westfield will be cleaner,” said Stowe.

MMWEC’s Wyman Project was established in 1976.  At the time, MMWEC had developed a balanced power supply system with both nuclear power and Wyman’s fossil fired power generation.

“MMWEC is always looking to re-position the power portfolios of the MLPs for their benefit, and this sale is consistent with the trajectory of the evolving hybrid grid, and is in lockstep with the Commonwealth’s Clean Energy Standard goals,” said MMWEC CEO Ronald C. DeCurzio.

Stowe said that she is unsure how much the sale of the Wyman 4 stake was for, and how much of that money will be seen by WG&E.

The Wyman plant, located on Cousins Island in Yarmouth, was built on a 122-acre site in 1978, as a base-load generation unit.  When it came online, it marked a milestone for MMWEC and its project participants.  For the first time, participating municipal light plants purchased power at cost from a unit financed with lower cost MMWEC revenue bonds and owned by MMWEC, their own power supply agency.  Revenue bonds issued by MMWEC to finance the Wyman Project totaled $9.42 million.  All revenue bonds related to MMWEC’s Wyman Project were paid off in 2008.

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