Backing investment credit with bonds -- Nuon in Spain

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Desarrollos Eólicos SA (DESA), the Spanish wind operator-developer subsidiary of Dutch power marketer Nuon, is behind a new wind plant financing initiative. Bonds will be issued to back project investment credit, specifically a EUR 26 million loan clinched by Nuon with Caixa Galicia, a bank. The deal covers 10% of the combined cost of seven wind plant totalling 240 MW for Spain's windiest region of Galicia. The scale and maturity of the Galician projects marks the consolidation of Nuon's hold on the Spanish market following its entry just over a year ago via its purchase of DESA.

The special "wind fund," as DESA's Enrique Anchustegue calls it, could be in operation within five months when the first permits are expected. The bonds, with a life span of ten years, are guaranteed by Nuon. "They are a safe bet," says Anchustegue, adding that the bonds will yield a Euribor (Euro Interbank Offered Rate) of 0.25% and will distribute 2.75% of earnings from the wind stations.

Anchustegue says the bonds will be issued with preference to people living near the wind stations. With over 1000 MW up in Galicia, the regional government is eager to retain public support of large-scale development through local participation. "The only real impact is a local visual one," says Anchustegue. "If locals have a stake in the wind farms they see, the visual impact is a more positive one."

Suppliers chosen

The seven projects are not yet signed and sealed, but DESA says permits are imminent. Anchustegue confirms the intention to buy turbines from NEG Micon and Galician firm Izar -- the Spanish manufacturer of Bonus turbines. NEG Micon will supply 70 MW in 900 kW machines while Izar is penned to supply 170 MW of 1300 kW machines.

Nuon bought DESA from Spanish industrial firm Abengoa in 2001. The deal handed Nuon 130 MW in operational wind plant and 620 MW of advanced projects nationwide -- including those in Galicia -- as well as 500 MW in development concessions. The seven Galician plant are part of DESA's plan for nine projects in the region, approved by the regional government in 1996. Two of the nine, for 42 MW, were developed under Abengoa ownership.

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