7 January 2011

Plutonic Power partners with GE Energy Financial Services to buy 50MW portfolio from First Solar

Plutonic Power Corp of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and GE business unit GE Energy Financial Services of Stamford, CT, USA have agreed to acquire from First Solar Inc a 50MW (alternating current) portfolio of three cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic solar facilities to be built in Ontario. Plutonic Power identifies, develops and operates clean power projects, and the deal marks its expansion into solar power as well as into Ontario.

The firm is expected to make an equity contribution of about CDN$6m and serve as the projects’ managing partner. Project debt will be arranged by First Solar on behalf of Plutonic and GE Energy Financial Services and is expected to be in place at financial close, which will coincide with the start of commercial operation.

“Expanding into both a new market and a new technology represents significant growth for Plutonic,” says its vice chairman & CEO Donald McInnes. “Our solid relationship with GE Energy Financial Services enabled this expansion into our third joint near-term operating asset,” he adds.

“This transaction is GE Energy Financial Services' first solar investment in Canada, broadening our US$6bn renewable energy portfolio and supporting our strong partnership with Plutonic,” says Mark Tonner, managing director and Canada business leader at GE Energy Financial Services. “We see significant growth potential for solar power worldwide, which continues to improve on technology costs and efficiencies, and helps balance wind-generated power, which peaks at different times.”

First Solar will continue developing the facilities — Amherstburg (10MW), Belmont (20MW) and Walpole (20MW) — and will provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services and operations and maintenance (O&M) services under long-term contracts. Permitting the projects under the province’s Renewable Energy Approval process is expected this spring. Construction should begin by mid-2011.

“These projects will significantly expand Ontario’s supply of clean, affordable, sustainable solar energy,” says Frank De Rosa, First Solar’s senior VP of project development for North America.

The projects will create more than 600 construction jobs, generate tax revenues for various levels of government and create economic benefits for local businesses. Power output will be sold to the Ontario Power Authority under 20-year energy purchase agreements and will interconnect to the province's distribution grid at five points. Combined, the facilities are expected to produce enough electricity to power about 6300 local homes and avoid 14,600 tons of carbon dioxide a year (equivalent to taking 3700 cars off the road).

Plutonic Power and GE Energy Financial Services also jointly own British Columbia's largest wind farm (the Dokie Wind Project) and British Columbia’s largest independent run-of-river hydro project (the East Toba River and Montrose Creek hydroelectric project), which have a combined capacity of 340MW and have secured long-term Energy Purchase Agreements with BC Hydro.

In December, GE Energy Financial Services announced that it had reached its multi-year target of investing US$6bn in renewable energy projects, which now span 14 countries and include investments in wind farms, solar installations, hydroelectric projects, landfill gas facilities and projects involving other technologies across a wide spectrum of capital (from project equity to debt and venture capital).

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

Visit: www.plutonic.ca

Visit: www.geenergyfinancialservices.com

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