Big player moves north into Canada

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The largest wind plant operator in the US, Florida-based FPL Energy, is taking its first steps into the Canadian market with a deal to buy the 54 MW Mount Copper wind plant in Quebec and Nova Scotia's 30.6 MW Pubnico Point Wind Farm for C$121.6 million. FPL is buying the projects from Creststreet Power and Income Fund (CPIF) in Toronto.

"We have been looking for opportunities to enter the Canadian market for some time," says the company's Steve Stengel. He points out that both wind plant use Vestas technology, which FPL is familiar with, and have long term power purchase agreements with creditworthy counter parties. FPL sees Canada as a market in which it can diversify its wind turbine fleet and is a "logical next step" in its growth, adds Stengel. "Having said that, one of the things that is the hallmark of our company is really to crawl before we can walk," he says. "This is a relatively small transaction at 84.6 MW. We want to get familiar with the market."

Stengel says FPL is also looking at a variety of other opportunities in a number of locations across the country. The company has built its portfolio of more than 5000 MW of wind capacity in 16 US states through buying existing assets, acquiring development rights and doing its own greenfield prospecting, says Stengel. The company is ready to pursue all those strategies in Canada.

In terms of project development, he says, the company's activities are "probably further along in Ontario than anywhere else." That province is expected to release a request for proposals for 500 MW, the first in a multi-year plan to add 2000 MW of new renewables to its supply mix. Stengel expects FPL will be among the bidders. "We think we have some sites that may make some sense."

Creststreet made the decision to sell Pubnico Point and Mount Copper after completing a strategic review that was prompted by the Canadian government's decision to start taxing income trusts, like CPIF, at the same rate as corporations, starting in 2011.

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