US firm secures turbines for 49 MW wind project

American Econergy International is moving forward with a 49.5 MW wind project in Costa Rica after securing 900 kW wind turbines from Enercon. The Colorado company's Proyecto Eolico Guanacaste (PEG) project will be built in two phases, with 24.5 MW expected online in November 2008 and the remaining 25 MW completed in 2009. Econergy won a concession to build the project in 2006 from the government-owned Costa Rican utility, Instituto Costaricense de Electricidad (ICE). As the winning bidder, Econergy has a 20 year build, own, operate, and transfer deal, says the company's Rick Renner. "So after 20 years we'll transfer ownership to ICE." The bid requires a 30% local partnership and Econergy enlisted Saret de Costa Rica, a regional construction firm, along with Juwi GmbH, a German company that provided the Enercon connection. A financial partner is close to signing on, according to Renner. The project will earn a year-around weighted average of about $70 per MWh, says Renner, adding that Econergy is interested in finding more projects in Costa Rica and has secured rights to considerably more land than PEG will require. Costa Rica currently has 70 MW of wind plant, but this is the first new project since 2002. "The market is subject to ICE's determination of what they need," Renner says. "But if there are future solicitations, we feel we're in a pretty good position to participate." Econergy has yet to complete a wind project, but has two under construction in north-eastern Brazil. The 25.6 MW Beberibe plant is expected to bring 800 kW Enercon turbines online in next year's second quarter, while Pedra do Sal, an 18 MW development, will install 900 kW Enercon machinery in 2009. "We like the wind sector in Latin America," Renner says. "And we feel we've found a good niche."