Gaelectric Raises $18 Million for Its US Wind Power Operations

Gaelectric North America has announced that the funds raised have been placed on deposit with transmission system operators, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and NorthWestern Energy (NWE), to book transmission capacity on their networks with power expected to flow in the period 2014 – 2016.

Announcing its fundraising and booking of transmission capacity, President of Gaelectric North America, Eamonn McGrath said: "The funding we have announced today will enable Gaelectric to advance the development of key wind farm sites in Montana with power delivered via the Bonneville Power Administration network and NorthWestern Energy networks."

Mr. McGrath said: "States like Montana, which have high quality wind regimes and that have historically confronted sizeable transmission development barriers, will now reap that value in a shorter timeframe. A recent study undertaken by E3 – Energy and Environmental Economics Inc – experts in planning, policy and markets in California and the West, found that of 12 states located across the US’s western seaboard, Montana had the lowest levelised cost of energy production from wind turbines. Furthermore, we believe the United States’ pursuit of a clean renewable energy future will soon break the log jam which will mean that the policy environment is going to catch up with wind energy developers’ expectations."

The $18 million funds have been raised from European private equity sources in the form of a hybrid debt/equity instrument.

Commenting on interest in funding markets for the Gaelectric offer, Eamonn McGrath said: "The fact that we have raised this finance against the backdrop of a difficult fundraising environment is a strong vote of confidence in Gaelectric’s overall vision and strategy. Gaelectric is the first wind developer in Montana to book transmission capacity at a scale which will allow renewable power to be exported from some of Montana’s highest wind energy sites directly to markets in the Pacific Northwest. We see this investment as both an important endorsement of Gaelectric’s vision of developing wind projects and as an initiative which will start a process to unlock the tremendous wind resource of the mid-west."

He said "We have had significant interest in response to this latest fundraising round and have succeeded in forging strong relationships that will see us working with our funding partners to realise significant wind generation and other renewables projects that form the basis of our strategy and work programmes."

Gaelectric wins permission for wind farm in Tyrone

Gaelectric, the Irish renewable energy company, has announced that it has received planning approval for a 11.5 Megawatt (MW) wind farm at Cregganconroe, Pomeroy, Co Tyrone. The wind farm development will consist of five wind turbines and will be capable of generating energy equivalent to the average annual electricity consumption of approximately 6500 homes. The Cregganconroe wind farm will require a total investment of approximately €22 million, and is just one of a number of projects that Gaelectric currently has in planning in Northern Ireland, which together total approximately 130 MW.

Making this announcement, Brendan McGrath, CEO of Gaelectric, said: ‘We have been working on planning for a range of sites in Tyrone and Antrim for a number of years. The Cregganconroe approval is a further important step for Gaelectric and represents our second planning success in Northern Ireland this year.’

Commenting on the role of the Northern Ireland Executive, Mr. McGrath said: ‘It has been very helpful over the last few years to be able to deal with the Northern Ireland Executive, which was at all times open to the benefits of renewable energy and to finding a solution that would work for the area. We appreciate their support.’

Mr. McGrath said: ‘Gaelectric plans to continue its high level of investment in Northern Ireland over the coming years. To achieve this we need an efficient planning system that has sufficient resources to deal with the current workload. It is critical that Planning Service staff that have now built up a level of hard-learned expertise in this specialist area are not now redeployed in the current NI civil service reorganisation. Policy makers must insure that Renewable Energy, which is an indigenous industry, is properly resourced. Only by investing in this area will its green jobs potential be realised in a timely manner ’.

Gaelectric completed an extensive consultation programme to update local communities on the proposal. A locally administered community fund amounting to £210,000 for community projects will be set up which confirms Gaelectric’s commitment to fully engage with its local communicates. Gaelectric has also committed to spending up to € 5 million in construction and operation costs with local companies.

Other benefits of the wind farm include – greenhouse gas emission avoidance, enhancement of security of energy supply, provision of up to 20 construction jobs, with the opportunity for employment in the operation and management of the site, and the provision of an educational resource for local schools. The project is also in line with the aspirations of Northern Ireland energy policy.

Gaelectric currently has 25 projects at different stages of development on the island of Ireland. Gaelectric’s first wind farm in Roscommon is expected to be commissioned by year end 2010.

Gaelectric is a group of companies, founded in 2004 with assets in Europe and the US. Each Group company is active in different fields of renewable power generation and energy storage with experienced teams specialized in all aspects of project planning, permitting, finance, engineering and management. Gaelectric is active in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and North America (Gaelectric North America) where Gaelectric operates regional development offices.

US operations: In 2006, Gaelectric North America opened its offices in Great Falls, Montana and now employees 15 people in its overall North American operations. In Montana, it has secured circa 250,000 acres under options in high wind resource areas, and has a medium term objective of bringing up to 2000 MW of wind power generation capacity to shovel ready stage.