Wind assets for Australian gas firm

Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) is due to enter the wind market with its A$1.4 billion acquisition of Southern Hydro from New Zealand's Meridian Energy. While the main attraction of the deal for AGL is the 646 MW of hydro assets on Southern Hydro's books, it puts ownership of the recently commissioned 91 MW Wattle Point wind farm on the South Australia Eyre Peninsula in its hands. The acquisition, due to be formally completed by the end of this month, also includes taking on projects planned by Southern such as the A$600 million, 180 turbine 330-345 MW Macarthur wind farm, also proposed for South Australia and currently in the early stages of the planning process. These wind assets will form part of AGL's new infrastructure business, formed as part of the separation of AGL's retail and merchant energy assets from its infrastructure assets. The hydro assets will fall into the energy business portfolio. "These are long life assets," says AGL's Greg Martin. "The power generating characteristics of Southern Hydro will provide greater flexibility to the wholesale electricity portfolio through the quick start-up capabilities of the hydro generation assets. This will assist AGL in delivering lower average wholesale energy costs at times of peak electricity demand and enhance the company's retail market competitiveness." He adds: "These assets will help reduce the carbon intensity of AGL's power generation portfolio. This will provide the company with a competitive advantage as governments and customers increasingly seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

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