Major Wind Power Developer to be Acquired

With the U.S. federal wind power tax credit back in action for 2005, wind power project developers are a hot commodity. Global power company AES Corporation plans to acquire wind power project developer SeaWest Holdings of San Diego for USD$60 million.

The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2005. AES also announced plans to acquire and construct SeaWest’s 120 MW Buffalo Gap wind generation project near Abilene, Texas, at an estimated cost of $165 million. AES plans to begin construction in early 2005 and the facility is expected to become operational in the fourth quarter of 2005. SeaWest is a privately owned wind generation operating and development company that operates over 500 MW of wind facilities in California, Wyoming and Oregon, and has 1,800 MW of development sites in ten states in the western United States. The company has been in the wind energy business since it was formed in 1982 and employs 175 people. AES’s acquisition of SeaWest, combined with its recent investment in US Wind Force, advances the company’s goal to become a strong competitor in wind generation. Upon closing, the company will have wind projects operating or in development in 13 states, including California, which has the largest installed base of wind projects in the nation. AES will gain options on more than 100,000 acres of land for potential sites, which are currently in the development pipeline at SeaWest. “Wind is one of the fastest growing sources of electricity around the world and a natural extension of AES’s business,” said AES President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Hanrahan. “SeaWest is an established player in wind energy with experienced wind development and operations teams. This acquisition, combined with AES’s expertise in building and operating generation facilities, puts AES in a competitive position to meet the world’s growing demand for renewable power generated by wind.” Developer acquisitions are expected to increase in 2005 because of a year’s extension of the production tax credit (PTC), which had expired at the beginning of 2004. Many wind developers waited to build until the PTC became available again. With the tax credit extension in place, wind development companies are viewed as a promising commodity for utilities looking to diversify their power generation. AES is the second utility to purchase a developer this year. PPM Energy recently announced that it intends to add Virginia based Atlantic Renewable Energy Corporation to its development portfolio. Global demand for wind generation is expected to grow by more than 15 percent a year, from 46,000 MW in 2004 to 112,000 MW by 2010. In 2005 alone, the U.S. is expecting to see new construction of over 2,000 MW of wind generation as the result of new state requirements for power companies to include renewable sources of energy, such as wind, in their portfolios. Eighteen states in the U.S. have passed, or have pending, legislation on renewable portfolio standards. AES operates in 27 countries, generates 44,000 MW of electricity through 111 power facilities, and delivers electricity through 17 distribution companies.
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