New wind energy plant in Nicaragua

AEI, Centrans Energy Services, Inc and Energia Eolica de Nicaragua S.A. announced that their subsidiary Consorcio Eolico Amayo (Fase II) S.A. closed long-term, non-recourse project financing for its second phase wind power project in Nicaragua.

The $45 million facility is a 15-year term loan arranged by the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI).

The facility consists of a $42 million Senior Loan and a $3 million Mezzanine Loan. Senior Loan participants include CABEI, FMO, the Danish Export Credit Agency (EKF) and the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO). The Mezzanine Loan was provided by the Access to Energy Fund, which FMO manages on behalf of the Dutch government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate General International Cooperation).

The Amayo II wind farm is comprised of 11 Suzlon S88-50HZ 2.1 MW wind turbines and is capable of producing a total of 23.1 MW of electricity. Combined with the Amayo I wind farm (that has 19 wind turbines), the two phases have a total output of 63.0 MW representing almost 10% of available installed capacity.

The wind energy projects are located in Rivas, a prime wind location with access to transmission lines along the southwest Pacific coast of Nicaragua. Output for both phases is fully contracted under long-term, 15-year PPA’s with the local power distribution companies Dissur and Disnorte.

"This financing enables the continued expansion of AEI’s wind-generated power portfolio and further demonstrates the financial market’s appetite for well structured projects in Central America," said Jim Hughes, Chief Executive Officer of AEI. "The Amayo Phase II project adds much needed and competitively priced sustainable energy for Nicaragua and complements our existing portfolio in the region," added Cesar Zamora, AEI Country Manager for Nicaragua.

Nanno Kleiterp, CEO of FMO, commented: "The funds provided by FMO are substantial in terms of amounts and role. In addition to our senior loan, we added a $3 million Mezzanine Loan which strengthens the capital base of the project and provides additional comfort to senior lenders. We are very satisfied with the commitment of and investments made by AEI, the regional and local shareholders to make this project a success. The impact of this renewable energy investment on the local energy sector, the economy and environment are expected to be very positive."

"It’s CABEI’s privilege to catalyze funds to the region through Amayo Phase II given the fact that Amayo Phase I was completely financed by CABEI bringing confidence to investors and other lenders to support investments in Central America," said Mr. Nick Rischbieth, CABEI’s CEO. Additionally, "Amayo II depicts government’s effort to support the Country Strategic Energy Sector Plan, which search for a change in the energy matrix promoting renewable energy sources," commented Mr. Silvio Conrado, CABEI’s Nicaragua Director.

AEI owns and operates essential energy infrastructure businesses in emerging markets diversified across four core business segments – Power Distribution, Power Generation, Natural Gas Transportation and Services, and Natural Gas Distribution – within five regions – Andean, Southern Cone, Central America/Caribbean, China, and Europe/Middle East/North Africa. AEI and its 11,550 employees serve more than 7.4 million customers worldwide, with approximately 26,500 miles of gas and liquids pipelines, 121,000 miles of power distribution and transmission lines, and 2,302 MW of installed power generation capacity.

Energia Eolica de Nicaragua S.A. (ENISA) is a Nicaraguan company, formed in 1995, with the sole goal of developing, investing and operating wind power projects in Nicaragua. Shareholders Luis Fonseca and Miguel Barrios worked as principal developers on the Amayo project from 1995 until 2007 on tasks related to permits, licenses, land agreements, wind measurements, and basic studies. ENISA currently holds a minority stake in both Amayo Phases.