Developer sells project early -- Preference for cash

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Challenging financial markets played a key role in a decision by Finavera Renewables, a wind project developer based in Vancouver, to sell its construction-ready 75 MW Ghost Pine development in Alberta. The company has sold the project to the subsidiary of an unnamed major US utility for C$4.5 million, putting the company in a "much stronger financial position during these difficult market conditions" and allowing it to continue developing the rest of its project pipeline.

Finavera originally bought the just sold project, along with a 50% stake in the neighbouring 75 MW Lone Pine project, at an early stage of development from Calgary-based Penn West Petroleum in April 2007 for C$3.35 million. Finavera's Myke Clark says the company is tackling the current tight financial environment by shifting its focus to markets where the power prices are more predictable than in Alberta.

"The project is in a merchant market. There are no power purchase agreements per se that are associated with wind projects in Alberta, so for the most part you sell the electricity into a pool. What that means is that it is much more difficult to get financing for the project, especially for a smaller cap company like ours," he explains. "We felt it was a good time to monetise it, given the challenging financial markets right now and the challenges we and others face in raising capital."

Clark says the terms of a confidentiality agreement prevent him from revealing the buyer of Ghost Pine, but at least one published report says it is NextEra Energy Resources, formerly known as FPL Energy, a subsidiary of Florida's FPL Group and the world's largest wind plant owner. NextEra did not respond to requests for comment.

Finavera retains its 50% stake in Lone Pine and plans to continue development work there, says Clark. Whether it will sell its interest in that project too remains to be seen. "That is something we'll decide in the future as part of our overall company objectives."

Much of Finavera's current focus is on the British Columbia market, where it hopes to win long term power purchase contracts in BC Hydro's recently completed call for clean power (main story). The company bid four wind power projects totalling 295 MW with GE Energy Financial Services as its financial backer. It is also developing the 105 MW Cloosh Valley Wind Project in Ireland, a market that offers a government mandated purchase price for energy produced.

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