Comprised of several distinct phases, AWEC will ultimately have a generating capacity of 1,550 megawatts of wind power when completed. Citi and Google will each invest $102 million in the 168 MW Alta V wind farm. This is additional to the $55 million each company invested in the Alta IV project as announced last month, bringing each company’s total investment to $157 million. The companies will now hold leveraged leases for two phases, totaling 270 MW, of what will soon be the nation’s largest wind farm. Citi has also underwritten the equity financing for Alta Projects II-V, totaling 570 MW.
The initial five Alta wind power projects, with a generating capacity of 720 MW, are now completed and providing electricity to the grid, representing a 25% increase in installed wind capacity for the State of California. Another 300 MW will be constructed and on-line by the end of this year, making AWEC the nation’s largest wind facility at 1,020 MW. The operating AWEC projects are already helping California utilities meet the state’s aggressive renewable portfolio standards. Under a power purchase agreement signed in 2006, AWEC will supply all of its 1,550 MW of wind energy capacity to Southern California Edison (SCE).
The Alta projects will use a new transmission line developed as part of the 4,500 MW Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, the first major transmission project in California built to transport electricity from remote, clean energy resources in the Tehachapi region to population centers 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.
The financing is structured as a leveraged lease whereby the investors have committed to purchase the projects at the start of commercial operations and lease them back to Terra-Gen. Terra-Gen, will continue to manage and operate the wind projects under long-term agreements.
"We are delighted with the important investment role that Citi and Google are playing in the Alta Wind Energy Center," said Terra-Gen Power CEO Jim Pagano. "All of us at Terra-Gen are proud of the immense contribution that this project will make to America’s clean energy economy."
When completed, AWEC is expected to increase wind farm jobs in California by 20 percent, including more than 3,000 domestic manufacturing, construction, operation and maintenance jobs. The Alta projects will also contribute more than $1.2 billion to the local economy in Kern County.