Google and investment bank Citi have boosted their investments in the largest wind farm in the US.
The companies will finance a second phase of the Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC) in California, developed by Terra-Gen Power, an affiliate of ArcLight Capital Partners and Global Infrastructure Partners.
Citi and Google will each invest $102 million in the project, on top of the $55 million each invested last month, bringing their total investment to $314 million.
The financing is structured as a leveraged lease whereby the investors have committed to purchase parts of the project at the start of commercial operations and lease them back to Terra-Gen, which will continue to manage and operate the wind farm under long-term agreements.
Citi and Google will now hold leveraged leases for two phases of the project totalling 270MW.
Citi has also underwritten the equity financing for several phases of the Alta project totalling 570MW.
Mega wind farm will total 1.55GW
AWEC will surpass the 1GW mark by the end of the year and will ultimately have a generating capacity of 1.55GW — nearly double the capacity of the largest currently operating US wind energy installation. Under a power purchase agreement signed in 2006, AWEC will supply all of its power to utility Southern California Edison.
The initial five phases of the Alta project, with a generating capacity of 720MW, are now complete and providing electricity to the grid, representing a 25% increase in installed wind capacity in California.
Alta will connect up to a transmission line built as part of the 4.5GW Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, developed to transport electricity from remote, clean energy rich areas in the Tehachapi area to population centres in southern California and elsewhere.
“We’re excited to make this additional investment in the Alta Wind Energy Center, because the project harnesses a proven local wind resource through a clean power transmission line to help California meet its ambitious renewable energy goals, while using an innovative financial structure that may attract more investment in renewable energy projects from new types of investors,” said Rick Needham, director of green business operations at Google.
By. Gloria Gonzalez