Project Development, Wind Power

Financing Flurry: Year-end Brings Project Announcements

With the year drawing to a close, several wind power developers locked in project financing arrangements.

NextEra obtains loan, issues membership interests for California, Oklahoma projects

NextEra Energy Resources, the top wind power developer in the nation, announced two financing deals this week. Subsidiary Redwood Trails Wind, LLC, obtained approximately $234 million in financing for 236.8 MW of wind energy projects in Oklahoma and California. In addition, subsidiary Golden Winds, LLC, which consists of three California wind farms with an aggregate capacity of 205.9 MW, issued Class B membership interests to JPMorgan Capital Corp. in exchange for $131 million at closing and an expected additional $78 million capital contribution in early 2012.

On the Redwood Trails Wind deal, the limited recourse term loan has a variable rate and matures in December 2029. NextEra intends to use the proceeds of the loan to reimburse itself in part for expenditures made to develop and build the projects. The loan is secured by liens on the wind energy project assets and the ownership interest in Redwood Trails Wind, LLC.

In a news release statement announcing the Golden Winds financing, Vice Chairman and CFO Moray Dewhurst said, “These market transactions continue to show the attractiveness of our wind energy portfolio, and we are pleased to be able to demonstrate continued success in the tax equity market.”

Edison Mission closes financing for three projects

Edison Mission Energy closed a $242 million financing for three contracted wind energy projects totaling 204 MW of generation capacity. Projects include two operating in Oklahoma—the 130 MW Taloga project, commissioned earlier this year, and the 19 MW Buffalo Bear project, commissioned in 2008. The third project is the 55 MW Pinnacle facility, which is nearing completion in West Virginia. The projects sell electricity generated to utilities and public agency customers under long-term power purchase agreements.

The financing package consists of a 10-year, $214 million fully amortizing term loan facility, and 10-year letter of credit and working capital facilities totaling $28 million. Approximately $96 million of the credit facilities related to the Pinnacle project will be available when it achieves certain completion milestones. Edison Mission expects construction to be completed and the requirements to be satisfied in the first quarter of 2012.

First Wind secures $210 million financing for Washington project

First Wind obtained $210 million in financing for the 105-MW Palouse Wind project in northern Whitman County, Wash.  The wind farm is scheduled to be finished in 2012. 

The financing was two-fold: First Wind subsidiary Palouse Wind, LLC closed a $170 million construction and term facility loan and letters of credit of up to $40 million.  KeyBank National Association served as the joint lead arranger and administrative agent, and Nordduetsche Landesbank Girozentrale, CoBank ACB, and Banco Santander served as joint lead arrangers.

The project will feature 58 Vestas 1.8-MW wind turbines with a generating capacity of about 105 MW of electricity.  The energy from the Palouse Wind project will power local homes and businesses through a power purchase agreement with Avista. The general contractor, RMT, Inc., began construction in October 2011 and is hiring many Pacific Northwest-based businesses and subcontractors to work on the project.  During construction, it is estimated that the project will create an average of 100-200 jobs and will result in $30 million of spending with local businesses in Whitman County and the inland Northwest.  Once Palouse Wind is operational, Whitman County will receive approximately $12 million over the next 20 years in property tax revenues, which can be used toward roads, schools, police, fire departments, and other local efforts.

Carl Levesque is the communications editor at AWEA. This article first appeared in the AWEA Windletter and was reprinted with permission from the American Wind Energy Association.