New finance to move Dokie Wind Project forward

CANADA: New owners with solid financial resources have put a stalled wind power project in northeastern British Columbia back on track.

Dokie Wind Project under construction
Dokie Wind Project under construction

GE Energy Financial Services (GEEFS) and Vancouver's Plutonic Power Corporation completed their purchase of the Dokie Wind Project near the community of Chetwynd and planned to restart construction of its 144MW first phase in January.

The partners jointly contributed C$52.5 million (US$49.5 million) to buy Dokie from financially troubled Earthfirst Canada, a Calgary developer that obtained court protection from creditors in November 2008.

Earthfirst erected five of the project's 48 Vestas V90 3MW turbines before running short of cash and, with GE and Plutonic at the helm, the remaining units are expected to be up and operating by early 2011.

Toronto-based Manulife Financial led a syndicate, also including Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, the Canada Life Assurance Company and Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services, which provided C$175 million in project debt for a 20-year term.

Energy from Dokie's first phase will be sold to BC Hydro, the third largest electric utility in Canada, under a 25-year energy purchase agreement.

The partners are also working towards expanding the project, says Alex Urquhart, CEO of GEEFS, which has full permission to build a 156MW second phase.

Plutonic, which until now has focused exclusively on run-of-river hydro development, sees wind as a new growth platform says CEO Donald McInnes.

The purchase marks the first investment in Canadian wind power for GE's financial services arm, which has a renewable energy portfolio worth US$4 billion that it expects to expand to US$6 billion by the end of 2010.

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