NextEra Energy Resources LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc., has officially dedicated the 74.8 Steele Flats Wind Energy Center, located in Jefferson and Gage counties, Neb.
“I’m excited that NextEra Energy has built a wind farm in Nebraska,” said Gov. Dave Heineman, R-Neb., at a dedication ceremony. “Projects such as Steele Flats are helping make America more energy independent and more energy secure by relying on energy grown and produced here at home, rather than overseas. Wind energy helps our local and state economy and is an important step toward our own energy future.”
All of the power generated by the Steele Flats project is being provided to the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) under a long-term contract. BD, a medical technology company, is also purchasing a portion of the project’s renewable energy credits for the next 20 years to offset 75% of the electricity use at its manufacturing facilities in Columbus and Holdrege, Neb.
“This relationship between Nebraska Public Power District, BD and NextEra Energy has added another generation resource to our energy portfolio, and at the same time, we have been able to assist BD, a company with deep Nebraska roots, in meeting their global initiatives,” commented NPPD President and CEO Pat Pope.
The wind facility features 44 GE 1.7 MW turbines and entered service in November 2013, two months ahead of schedule. NextEra says since breaking ground in July 2013, the project employed approximately 200 construction workers and now supports five full-time jobs. The company also adds that the wind farm represents a $138 million capital investment and is expected to contribute millions in property taxes and land lease payments over the first 20 years of the plant’s life.
Four Nova Scotia wind farms developed by juwi Wind Canada have obtained C$57 million in non-recourse financing. In conjunction with the financing, the projects were sold to Firelight Infrastructure Partners.
Nova Scotia Power Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Emera Inc., has agreed to purchase all of the output from the four wind farms under 20-year power purchase agreements.
The non-recourse project financing was structured and arranged by Travelers Capital Corp., acting as loan agent and security agent, and was funded by Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc.
The projects consist of the following:
- Truro Heights Community Wind: Located near the community of Truro, the 4 MW project is owned by the Truro Heights Wind Ltd. Partnership, an equity partnership between the Eskasoni First Nation and Firelight Infrastructure Partners LP;
- Millbrook Community Wind: Located near the community of Truro, the 6 MW project is owned by the Millbrook Wind Ltd. Partnership, an equity partnership between the Millbrook First Nation and Firelight Infrastructure Partners LP;
- Chebucto Pockwock Community Wind: Located in the community of Upper Hammonds Plains, the 10 MW project is owned by the Pockwock Wind Ltd. Partnership, an equity partnership between the Chebucto Pockwock Lake Wind Field Ltd., a community economic development investment fund and Firelight Infrastructure Partners LP and;
- Whynotts Community Wind: located in the community of Whynotts Settlement, the 4 MW project is owned by the Whynotts Wind Ltd. Partnership, an equity partnership between the Whynotts Mi’kmaq Wind Company Ltd. (a company owned by and managed for the benefit of all 13 Nova Scotia Mi’kmaqs) and Firelight Infrastructure Partners LP.
Sempra Unit Nets
Infraestructura Energetica Nova (IEnova), a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, has closed a $270 million financing agreement to construct the 155 MW first phase of the Energia Sierra Juarez wind project in Mexico.
The lenders under the facility are providing the project with long-term debt maturing 18 years following commercial operation of the project. The financing was provided by a syndicate of banks, with Mizuho Bank Ltd. acting as coordinating lead arranger; the North American Development Bank as the technical and modeling bank; and Nacional Financiera SNC Institucion de Banca de Desarrollo, Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. as lenders. In addition, the project has entered into a value-added tax credit facility with Banco Santander SA.
“This financing agreement is another key milestone in the development of the Energia Sierra Juarez project and an important component of our business model and growth strategy,” says Carlos Ruiz Sacristan, chairman and CEO of IEnova.
This cross-border project will be built between Mexico and the U.S., with generating assets located in Mexico and transmission infrastructure headed into the latter country. The first phase of Energia Sierra Juarez is an approximately $300 million project consisting of 47 3.3-MW Vestas turbines. Expected to come online during the first half of 2015, the wind farm has a 20-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric.
Recently, IEnova announced that it had entered into an agreement with InterGen to sell a 50% interest in the project’s first phase. That transaction is subject to regulatory approvals in Mexico and the U.S.
At Cross Winds
Michigan utility Consumers Energy says that the first batch of wind turbines has started to arrive at its 105 MW Cross Winds Energy Park, located in Tuscola County, Mich.
According to Consumers, nearly all of the project’s access roads and more than half of turbine foundations have been completed at the $255 million wind farm. Southfield, Mich.-based Barton Malow is the lead contractor at the site.
In agreement with the Tuscola County Road Commission, the project includes necessary maintenance, repair and upgrades to several area roads needed for transporting wind turbine components and other construction-related materials.
The Cross Winds project will be powered by 62 wind turbines when it begins generating power late this year. Duke Energy Renewable Services will provide operations and maintenance services, the utility notes.
Invenergy Wind LLC has commenced full commercial operation of its 148.6 MW Goldthwaite Wind Energy Center in Mills County, Texas.
Located southeast of the town of Goldthwaite and approximately 100 miles north of Austin, the facility utilizes 83 GE 1.7 MW wind turbines, which began operating in December. In addition, three GE 2.5 MW Brilliant wind turbines at Goldthwaite are now operational. Invenergy says this marks the first U.S. installation of the GE 2.5 MW Brilliant turbines, which feature short-term battery storage.
“We’re proud to begin operation at Goldthwaite and utilize the latest in wind turbine technology,” says Jim Shield, chief development officer at Invenergy. “We’re also pleased to invest in the economic future of Mills County and look forward to a long-term, successful relationship with our host community in the years to come.”
EDF Renewable Services has signed a multiyear operations and maintenance (O&M) agreement with DTE Energy for the 75 MW Brookfield Wind Park.
Located in Huron County, Mich., and consisting of 44 GE 1.7 MW turbines, the Brookfield Wind Park joins DTE’s Thumb, Echo and Gratiot wind parks, which are currently under contract with EDF Renewable Services, for a total of 400 MW.
“We look forward to extending our business relationship with DTE Energy and providing exceptional services to the Brookfield project,” says Dalen Copeland, director of business development for EDF Renewable Services. “We are confident our extensive experience, which includes over 2,000 GE turbines under contract, and resources will ensure the long-term success of this project.”
Under the terms of the new agreement, EDF Renewable Services will provide selected O&M for the turbines and balance of plant, project oversight and 24/7 remote monitoring from its newly built Operations Control Center in San Diego.
Oldman 2 Turbine
Mainstream Renewable Power has successfully erected the first of 20 wind turbines at its 46 MW Oldman 2 wind farm, located in Alberta. Mainstream started construction work in September 2013, and the wind farm is expected to be operational this August.
The wind farm is using 20 Siemens 2.3-101 turbines, and Mainstream notes that the main turbine components were manufactured in Kansas and Iowa.
“We are delighted to have the first turbine erected,” comments Gary Swan, Mainstream’s head of construction. “The winter in Alberta was particularly harsh this year and created enormous challenges for our contractors, with temperatures regularly between -35° and -20°C. Despite this, the project is still on track to achieve completion on schedule.”
Once the 46 MW wind farm is operational, home furnishings retailer IKEA will acquire the project under an agreement announced in November 2013. Oldman 2 represents IKEA’s first North American wind farm purchase, though the company also recently announced a deal to buy the 98 MW Hoopeston Wind project in Illinois.
Vestas has signed an agreement with Elemental Energy for a 10-year AOM 4000 service agreement renewal that covers the 27 MW Fermeuse wind power plant, located in Newfoundland, Canada. The project features nine V90-3.0 MW turbines and was commissioned in 2009. Vestas has conducted service on the site since installation.
“We have been extremely pleased with the entire Vestas team and the overall performance of the wind plant,” says Ron Hankewich, vice president of corporate development at Elemental Energy.
“Our dedicated service team has worked hard to optimize the performance of the Fermeuse wind power plant,” adds Chris Brown, president of Vestas’ sales and service division in North America. “We have been able to tailor our service schedule to ensure planned maintenance on low-wind days, which contributes to a world-class lost production factor well below two percent. For a smaller, remote site, this is a significant achievement, of which we are very proud.”
Energy Dept. Orders
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has awarded AXYS Technologies Inc. the contract to supply two WindSentinel floating LIDAR systems. The systems will be managed by PNNL to support research and development to help advance the U.S. offshore wind industry.
“This award reflects the DOE’s commitment to the use of new technology to assist in reducing the cost of offshore wind energy in the United States,” says Graham Howe, director of sales at AXYS. “We are pleased to be able to assist the DOE in their work.”
According to AXYS, the WindSentinel is a wind resource assessment buoy that uses LIDAR to measure wind speed, wind direction and turbulence offshore up to blade-tip heights of 200 meters.
Iberdrola and the Mexican Federal Electricity Commission, a government-owned electric utility, have entered into a collaboration agreement for the completion of joint renewable and conventional generation projects. In addition, the two companies will exchange information on implementing new technologies and managerial experiences.
Iberdrola says the agreement strengthens its commitment to Mexico, where it has an operating capacity of over 5.2 GW in wind farms and combined-cycle power plants. To help develop this agreement, the company plans to boost its presence in the Mexican energy market by investing some $5 billion between this year and 2018.
Iberdrola says its willingness to invest in Mexico is based on the good prospects of the country’s Energy Reform, under which the government calls for about $25.5 billion in investment for electricity generation alone by the year 2020.
NRG Yield To Buy
Alta Wind Complex
NRG Yield Inc. has entered into an agreement with Terra-Gen Power LLC to acquire the Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC) in California for $870 million. According to the companies, the multi-phase wind farm is the largest in North America.
The acquisition, which totals 947 MW of operating wind capacity, also includes a portfolio of land leases associated with the Alta Wind facility. The AWEC is made up of several phases and features 386 GE and Vestas turbines, with commercial operations achieved within the past four years. The facility has long-term power purchase agreements with utility Southern California Edison.
This transaction will grow the combined wind portfolio owned by NRG Yield and its parent, NRG Energy, to about 2.84 GW. NRG Yield says it intends to fund the purchase price through a combination of newly issued debt, common equity and cash on hand.
“Alta Wind is a landmark investment for NRG Yield,” comments David Crane, NRG Yield’s chairman and CEO. “The acquisition of the largest wind facility on the North American continent highlights not only our commitment to carbon-free generation, but also the strength of our acquisition capabilities to compete for contracted assets of world-class quality in the competitive marketplace.”
Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as exclusive financial advisor to NRG Yield in relation to this transaction, and Jones Day served as legal counsel to the company.
Terra-Gen says it will use proceeds from the sale to repay outstanding indebtedness under the Terra-Gen Finance credit facility to make distributions to its owners and for additional corporate purposes. Terra-Gen Operating Co. will continue to provide asset management and operations and maintenance services for AWEC after the sale.
Citigroup and Morgan Stanley advised on the sale. Latham & Watkins served as Terra-Gen’s lead transaction counsel.
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, as well as a notice of the acquisition to the California Public Utilities Commission. NRG and Terra-Gen say they expect to close the deal in the third quarter of this year.
U.S. Wind Fleet
EDP Renewables (EDPR) has placed the very first order for the Vestas PowerPlus solutions, a new range of technology upgrades Vestas launched to the market in June. EDPR will use PowerPlus to boost the performance on hundreds of turbines in its U.S. fleet.
“EDP Renewables and Vestas have been partners for many years, and we are excited to take this partnership to the next level by incorporating this new Vestas PowerPlus offering into a portion of our Vestas fleet,” says Brian Hayes, executive vice president of operations at EDPR North America.
Chris Brown, president of Vestas’ North American sales and service division, comments, “Since the launch, we have seen considerable interest from the market. The U.S. market is driven by annual energy production and price, and we expect sales of Vestas PowerPlus to be strong.”
Vestas PowerPlus consists of three product offerings: Power Uprate (V82-1.65 MW, V90-1.8 MW and V100-1.8 MW); Extended Cut Out (V90-3.0 MW, V100-1.8/2.0 MW); and Aerodynamic Upgrades (V82-1.65 MW).
Goes Online Early
On May 12, EDF EN Canada Inc. and Enbridge Inc. announced that their 300 MW Blackspring Ridge wind project, located in Vulcan County, Alberta, reached commercial operation ahead of schedule.
The Blackspring Ridge project started construction in May 2013 and features 166 Vestas V100-1.8 MW wind turbines. The project partners say it represents a C$600 million investment, created more than 350 jobs during the construction phase and will provide 20 permanent operations and maintenance jobs.
“The project demonstrates the versatility of the EDF EN team and our ability to deliver complex projects on time and on budget,” says Cory Basil, vice president of development at EDF EN Canada. “We are proud to have forged new relationships with the local stakeholders and grateful to our host community for their support.”
Don Thompson, vice president of green power and transmission at Enbridge, adds that the project required “a great deal of coordination and teamwork.”
“Not only is this the largest wind farm in western Canada, it is one of the largest in Canada,” says Thompson. “Blackspring Ridge was built ahead of schedule thanks to the outstanding efforts of the entire team.”
Mortenson Canada Corp. served as the construction company on the project, and AltaLink was the interconnection provider.
Renewable energy credits generated from the project are contracted to Pacific Gas and Electric under a 20-year power purchase agreement. Meanwhile, the electricity will be sold into the Alberta power pool. w
Projects & Contracts
NextEra Dedicates Steele Flats
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