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United Kingdom

Development sites fetch high price

National Wind Power (NWP) in the UK has bid $3 million for three potential wind farm sites in north Wales held by Kenetech Windpower of California, now in bankruptcy proceedings. Of the £2.35 bid, £2.05 million is to go to Kenetech and £300,000 to UK utility Manweb, Kenetech's joint venture partner in the scheme.

The deal would transfer to NWP the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) power purchase contracts secured for the proposed wind farms at Llyn Alaw on Anglesey, Mynydd-yr-Hendre in Powys and Pentrefoelas in Clwyd. Manweb later withdrew from the joint venture following its takeover by ScottishPower).

According to documents filed with the US Bankruptcy Court in California, NWP will also pay Kenetech an extra £2 million if a permit is secured to develop the Pentrefoelas site. Also, if NWP can re-permit another of the sites, Lyn Alaw, for 600 kW or larger turbines, instead of the proposed KVS-33 Kenetech units, another £400,000 would be equally split between Kenetech and Manweb.

The NWP bid was successful despite a competing offer from International Wind Corp of Texas, which had the backing of UK utility PowerGen, the utility confirms. The Texas firm did not respond to Kenetech's request to post a bond to guarantee its performance under the purchase contract, reveal the court documents.

The UK deal leaves some members of Britain's wind community agog at the high price offered by NWP. Hinson claims the bid reflects the tremendous amount of work that Kenetech and Manweb had already put into developing the sites. "They have been working for some four or five years on Anglesey alone, so a lot of investment has gone into it," he says. Nevertheless, one developer comments: "We would not expect to pay more than £100,000 top whack to develop a project."

The Anglesey site is the only one of the three to have planning permission, but even that is still to be confirmed by Ynys Mon Borough Council. "We are in full and friendly discussions with the council and hope to have that issued shortly," says Hinson. The permission is for 49 wind turbines with a nominal capacity of up to 20 MW. National Wind Power will almost certainly opt for a European manufactured turbine instead of the KVS-33.

The other two sites which were to have been developed by Kenetech are far less advanced. A public inquiry is pending into an application for 57 turbines at Mynydd-yr- Hendre, while at Pentrefoelas permission has yet to be sought for siting up to 87 machines.

The package of NFFO-3 contracts is one of a number of development assets put up for sale after Kenetech Windpower Inc filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May.

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