Foothold in America strengthened -- Irish firm expands

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The US expansion plans of Airtricity, a wind energy generator and retailer based in Ireland, have been boosted by the acquisition of Renewable Generation Inc (RGI) of Austin, Texas. RGI has over 1000 MW of projects at various stages of development in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.

The deal gives Airtricity 100% ownership of the 215 MW McDonald Ranch wind project, which has been jointly developed by the two companies and begins construction in mid 2006. The price paid by Airtricity for the four year old company is not revealed. Under the deal, RGI shareholders will receive an upfront cash payment and equity in Airtricity Holdings Ltd, but the majority of payments are tied to achievement of performance goals in building the pipeline of projects. "This important deal consolidates our growing position in the US market," says Airtricity's Eddie O'Connor. "The acquisition adds a large number of high quality development projects."

In Ireland

In its home Irish market, Airtricity is to recommence building wind farms for the first time in two years, with the construction of four projects for 110 MW. The hiatus in the company's construction program in Ireland was caused by a moratorium on grid connection offers for wind projects. Over the past two years Airtricity has concentrated on international expansion into the US and UK.

The company says it has raised EUR 130 million to fund developments in Ireland and abroad. A EUR 30 million debt facility was arranged with Barclays Capital in December 2005 and a EUR 100 million private equity fundraising was completed in January.

The four Irish wind projects it is ready to construct are a 27 MW plant at Richfield in Wicklow, 25.5 MW at Tournafulla, Limerick, 50 MW at Bindoo, Cavan and 7.5 MW at Knockastanna, Limerick. The company hopes the projects will be selected to receive Ireland's fixed tariff rate for wind power (Windpower Monthly, June 2005). Airtricity says the new build will ensure it can continue to supply renewable energy to its 50,000 commercial customers in Ireland.

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