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Costa Rica wind farm goes to Italy

The 24 MW Tierras Morenas wind farm in Costa Rica's Guanacaste province was due to be in new hands by the end of last month after owner Energia Global International (EGI) was bought out by Erga, a subsidiary of Italy's state-owned power company, ENEL.

Tierras Morenas is the only wind plant in EGI's 246 MW generation portfolio, but Erga sees great possibilities for renewables -- wind included -- in the region. Central America is particularly promising, says Erga CEO Paulo Pietrogrande. It not only lacks hydrocarbons for thermoelectric generation, but has limited logistical infrastructure for fuel imports and has restricted transmission lines for shifting output from large-scale generation plants.

Erga's purchase is a long term strategy, says Pietrogrande; the company has no intentions of divesting any EGI assets. Indeed, Erga seeks to become "the world leader of green power," and as recently as December completed its US$170 million takeover of US-based renewable energy generator CHI. The two acquisitions together offer opportunities for operational synergies, as EGI's Robert Pratt points out: "By working together with Erga and the CHI team and joining our knowledge base of regions and technologies, we will be better able to bring innovative power solutions to Latin America and capture the growth possibilities that exist there."

It is too early to say what projects Erga will concentrate on, Pietrogrande cautions, adding, however, that the company will have a better idea within six months once the company has had time to adapt to the addition of EGI. Regarding wind power specifically, there are "some prospects that are not yet projects" in various Central American countries, he adds.

Tierras Morenas started operations in 1999 and consists of 32 NEG Micon 750 kW turbines. Pending takeover by Erga, EGI shareholders are Teco Power Services, AIG-GE capital Latin American Infrastructure Fund, Energy Investors Funds and the International Finance Corporation, a branch of the World Bank.

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