GE, Plutonic Power closer to buying huge B.C. wind project

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: energy management

GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of GE, and Plutonic Power Corporation have moved a step closer to purchasing the 144-megawatt Dokie Ridge Wind Project, the largest wind farm under construction in British Columbia, from EarthFirst Canada Inc. GE and Plutonic have completed their due diligence, waived initial due diligence conditions and have committed to purchase the Dokie project subject to satisfaction or waiver of closing conditions. GE and Plutonic have formed a partnership through which they intend to own and operate the project, located 1,100 kilometers northeast of Vancouver.

The Dokie 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 and the rights to expand to 300 megawatts. As partners, GE and Plutonic or their affiliates would jointly provide equity and seek project debt financing to complete construction and operate the project. The estimated construction cost of the project is C$225 million. Other financial details are being finalized.

EarthFirst has reported that the 144-megawatt Dokie 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 -- the equivalent of taking 44,000 cars off the road.

EarthFirst obtained court-ordered protection from its creditors under Canada’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, and yesterday the Dokie partners informed the Court of Queens Bench of Alberta, Judicial Centre of Calgary of their waiver of initial due diligence conditions. GE Energy Financial Services and Plutonic plan to complete the acquisition of the Dokie project in early November, with completion of construction estimated in early 2011.

A GE affiliate will hold 49 percent and a Plutonic affiliate will hold 51 percent of the Dokie partnership, which has signed and put into escrow an amended and restated electricity purchase agreement with BC Hydro. Among other conditions, the transaction is subject to the BC Utilities Commission’s acceptance of the electricity purchase agreement, an agreement to obtain renewable energy incentives in Canada’s ecoENERGY program and arrangement of debt financing. In keeping with its commitment to good community citizenship, the partnership has received consents for the assignment of EarthFirst’s memorandums of understanding with the West Moberly, Halfway River and McLeod Lake First Nations. The partnership has signed a letter of understanding with the Saulteau First Nation and looks forward to working with all First Nations.

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 – the proposed 166-megawatt Upper Toba Valley Project and the proposed 1027-megawatt Bute Inlet Project. The companies bid Upper Toba Valley and Bute into BC Hydro’s 2008 Call for Power issued in November 2008.

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