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More bonds issued for wind projects -- FPL closes Enron deal

FPL Energy has closed a deal on 106 MW of existing wind projects in California owned by bankrupt Enron Corporation, two projects short of the company's October announcement that it intended to buy six projects with a combined capacity of 130 MW. The difference, says FPL's Steve Stengel, is due to a bankruptcy court requirement that put the projects up for auction.

PL Energy has closed a deal on 106 MW of existing wind projects in California owned by bankrupt Enron Corporation, 24 MW and two projects short of the company's October announcement that it intended to buy six projects with a combined capacity of 130 MW (Windpower Monthly, November 2003). The difference, says FPL's Steve Stengel, is due to a bankruptcy court requirement that put the projects up for auction. FPL failed to win in the bidding for two of Enron's smaller wind projects. The $82 million acquisition was completed in December.

Meanwhile, also in December, FPL issued an additional $125 million in senior secured bonds for the same seven projects that it earlier issued bonds for. FPL broke the bond barrier for wind projects in November, when it sold, in a private offering, $380 million in 20-year senior secured bonds to finance seven of its existing 36 US wind projects (Windpower Monthly, November 2003). For that transaction, FPL, America's largest wind developer, won the North America Deal of the Year award from Project Finance International. The magazine based the award to FPL "on the fact that it brought wind power to the capital markets and educated institutional investors about a new type of project and new technology that will likely be a big part of project financing in the US for years to come."

In its purchase of Enron assets, FPL took ownership of the 39.75 MW Cabazon and the 16.5 MW Green Power projects near Palm Springs. Both projects are equipped with Enron 750 kW turbines. It also bought Enron's 50% interest in the 77 MW Sky River and the 22 MW Victory Garden Phase IV projects utilising Vestas V27 225 kW turbines and already 50% owned by FPL. It did not win the 18 MW ZWHC and the 7 MW Victory Garden Repower projects located near Tehachapi.

The $82 million FPL spent to acquire the assets is more than the $80 million it said it would pay Enron for all 130 MW. Stengel says Enron initially valued the 16.5 MW Green Power project lower because it did not have a long term contract for its output, but because FPL is now more confident it will find a buyer for the power, it was ready to spend more. The other projects have existing long term power sales contracts with Southern California Edison, which were transferred with the sale. The full transaction also included additional land, but Stengel declines to speculate on the land's future use.

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