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GE Energy Financial Services announced June 2 it has signed an agreement with EarthFirst Canada Inc. to consider purchasing the up to 300-megawatt Dokie Ridge Wind Project, the largest wind farm project under construction in British Columbia. Subject to satisfaction of conditions, including due diligence and internal approvals, GE Energy Financial Services has agreed to form a partnership with Plutonic Power Corporation which, provided the acquisition is completed, will own and operate the project, located 1,100 kilometers northeast of Vancouver, near Chetwynd.
The project would represent GE Energy Financial Services' and Plutonic's first wind energy investment in Canada and an expansion of their relationship from hydroelectric power development into wind energy.
The Dokie Project consists of the fully permitted and partially built 144-megawatt Dokie Phase 1 project using Vestas 3-megawatt V-90 turbines, together with the rights to expand the project to 300 megawatts. As partners, GE and Plutonic would jointly provide equity and seek project debt to complete construction. Financial details, including the expected capital costs of the project and the amount of the equity and debt required, have not yet been finalized.
EarthFirst has reported that the Dokie Phase 1 Project, once completed, would generate 340 gigawatt-hours annually; enough electricity to meet the annual needs of 34,000 homes and avoid more than 229,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from a coal plant or the equivalent of taking 44,000 cars off the road.
EarthFirst had previously obtained court-ordered protection from its creditors under Canada's Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, and the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta, Judicial Centre of Calgary on Friday May 29, 2009 approved the proposed transactions involving the project. Receipt of court approval of the agreement does not ensure that conditions will be removed and that the proposed acquisition will be completed. Provided that certain conditions are satisfied or waived by July 6, GE Energy Financial Services and Plutonic plan to complete the acquisition of the Dokie assets within a further 45-day period. Satisfaction or waiver of conditions to closing include but are not limited to consent of First Nations and other material stakeholders, assignments of material permits and contracts and receipt of regulatory approvals. Subject to financial close, the partners anticipate resuming construction of the project this fall and completion in late 2010.
If the transaction is completed, the Dokie Project would expand GE's more than US$4 billion portfolio of renewable energy investments worldwide and support the company's ecomagination initiative to help customers meet their environmental challenges. If completed, the acquisition would provide Plutonic with a near-term operating asset and a second platform for growth in wind energy. Plutonic has capitalized on its relationship with GE Energy Financial Services to grow its portfolio of utility-scale renewable energy projects.
In addition to the Dokie Project, GE Energy Financial Services and Plutonic are partnering on three hydroelectric projects in British Columbia: the 196-megawatt East Toba River Montrose Creek project – under construction since July 2007 – and have jointly bid the 166-megawatt Upper Toba Valley Project and the 1027-megawatt Bute Project into BC Hydro's 2008 Call for Power issued in November 2008.