Analysis: Prokon at the crossroads over community future

GERMANY: Next month, nearly 100,000 creditors and profit participation certificate bearers will decide the future of German wind developer Prokon Regenerative Energien.

It will be just over 18 months since the company declared insolvency back in January 2014.

The options are to turn Prokon into an energy cooperative or sell up to EnBW, one of Germany's largest four electricity companies. EnBW was selected as preferred investor 12 May, and received German federal cartel office approval for the potential takeover on 2 June.

One key question is whether wind energy cooperatives can prosper in the face of restrictions on annual German onshore wind expansion and the upcoming auctioning procedure for setting wind project support. The latter, with all complications and costs it involves, was introduced in the 2014 revision of the German renewable energy act.

In an open letter last month, to Prokon creditors and certificate bearers, EnBW CEO Frank Mastiaux warned the market is changing, and competition will sharply increase. "Aside from experience in the wind business, energy sector experience and financial strength will be significant factors for success, both of which EnBW provides," he said.

But GLS, a major German cooperative bank, countered EnBW's claims. It is deciding whether to continue to operate Prokon (worth €640 million) themselves or sell it for EnBW's offer of €550 million. Additionally, Prokon creditors may also ask how secure Prokon's future may be after EnBW's €450 million loss in 2014 and its potential need for substantially higher nuclear decommissioning reserves.

Speaking about the situation, a GLS spokesman pointed out that Prokon looks in better shape than EnBW now the turnaround is complete.

GLS has provided advice on converting Prokon into a cooperative since January 2014, and is in initial talks on financing projects in Prokon's substantial project pipeline.

The insolvency administrators Schmidt-Jortzig Petersen Penzlin said 12th May 2015 that Prokon was "completely back on a stable footing with three core activities – operation of own wind projects, project development and electricity supply to consumers."

The company declared insolvency back in January 2014.

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