Americans and Danes after assets

Kenetech Windpower's assets in the Pacific Northwest can now be bought by Zond Development Corp, a subsidiary of Enron Corp. The assets, which consist mostly of the never-developed Columbia Hills project in Washington state, can be bought by Zond for $150,000, Judge Leslie Tchaikovsky ruled at the US Bankruptcy Court in Oakland, California, on November 17.

The price is minus anything that has to be paid to settle a dispute with local authorities in the Columbia Hills area. Kenetech will also be paid $15/kW of installed capacity if the project goes ahead. Kenetech declared bankruptcy 18 months ago.

Information has also emerged regarding the potential buyer of Kenetech's largest asset, its huge Altamont Pass wind farm in California, which consists of just over 1500 wind turbines, 1476 of the older 56-100 model and 41of its 33 MVS unit. In July, Tchaikovsky ruled that Energy Unlimited (EUI), a low profile but long standing wind company, could buy Kenetech's Altamont assets for $29.6 million, although other "less favoured bidders" are permitted to try and out-bid EUI. If EUI fails to buy the asset, it will still have some $1.3 million of its bidding expenses covered (Windpower Monthly August 1997).

It is now being revealed that EUI is backed by some formidable players. Documents filed with the court in mid November show the company hopes to co-purchase the asset with a partner named Atlantic Refining Group -- an oil company linked to EUI founder Harry Halloran -- through a new "limited liability corporation" named Altamont Windstar LLC. The court papers also reveal two other players in the proposal. According to a memo of understanding, the equity owners would be an entity named M&N Wind Power Inc, which is owned by NEG Micon of Denmark, and Nichimen Corp, a large Japanese trading company, through M&N Wind Power BV in Europe.

Because of the judge's rulings at the November court hearing, it appears likely that the sale will be finalised before or during the next Kenetech hearing on December 10. All so-called "over bids" -- which must be $3 million higher than EUI's -- were to have been put to the court by November 25.