Once the wind energy project has reached commercial operation, San Diego Gas & Electric Company ("SDG&E") is expected to make a tax-equity capital contribution in the project of approximately $285 million, subject to satisfaction of certain conditions. The tax-equity investment has been approved by both the California Public Utilities Commission ("CPUC") and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC").
Jose M. Sanchez-Seara, CEO of NaturEner, stated, "Rim Rock is an innovative project that is the result of tremendous effort not only from our team but also our partners at Morgan Stanley and SDG&E. We have been thrilled with the broad support we have received for Rim Rock from landowners, ratepayer advocates, the Montana government, labor unions and other stakeholders. Rim Rock is our third Montana-based project and we are excited to be building it this year."
The Montana-based Rim Rock project will generate 189 MW and, under a "Green Attribute Purchase and Sale Agreement," SDG&E will procure the renewable component of the Rim Rock output and use it to meet California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard or "RPS" goal, which is now 33 percent by the year 2020. The tax-equity investment, the first for a California regulated utility, is a unique transaction designed to pass through to SDG&E’s customers lower utility financing costs. Rim Rock’s wind power will contribute about 3.5 percent of SDG&E’s renewable portfolio per year.
Morgan Stanley is also the physical offtaker pursuant to a long-term fixed-price Power Purchase Agreement. Power from Rim Rock is expected to be shipped within the Western Interconnection, encompassing several western States and Alberta and British Columbia. The project will have access to transmission via the Montana Alberta Tie Line ("MATL") using the 300 MW of transmission rights awarded to NaturEner during FERC-compliant open season processes conducted in 2005 and 2006.
MATL received financing from the Western Area Power Authority ("WAPA"), an agency of the U.S. Department of Energy, under WAPA’s Transmission Infrastructure Program. This program was created to implement the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act provisions aimed at aiding or facilitating transmission projects that deliver power generated from renewable resources. MATL was acquired in October 2011 by Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. Enbridge announced in November 2011 that it expects MATL to be placed in service in mid-2012.
Mr. Sanchez-Seara added, "The strong financial backing of the U.S. Department of Energy, carried out through WAPA, has enabled MATL which, together with incentives such as the Production Tax Credit, has allowed Rim Rock to proceed. We greatly appreciate the US Government’s support for renewable energy generation and the transmission lines that allow them to deliver the energy to markets across North America."
Rim Rock is a 189 MW wind farm project located in Glacier and Toole Counties, Montana consisting of 126 Acciona AW-77 1.5 MW wind turbines. The project area encompasses approximately 21,000 acres of private land. The project is expected to generate enough energy to power more than 60,000 homes and will offset more than 389,000 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
NaturEner USA, LLC owns and operates the combined 210 MW Glacier Wind projects, located near Ethridge, Montana. Production from the Glacier projects is managed by NaturEner through its wind only Balancing Authority, Power Watch, from the NaturEner Operations Center, a fully enabled, state-of-the-art, 24/7, real-time desk located in San Francisco.
Glacier 1 has been in operation since 2008 and Glacier 2 since 2009. Since the first MWh was produced by Glacier 1, the Glacier projects together have generated more than 1,500 GWh of green energy, enough to power approximately 50,000 homes per year, and have offset nearly 900,000 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions.
NaturEner Energy Canada Inc., an affiliate of NaturEner USA, LLC, is developing wind power projects in Alberta, Canada with more than 500 MW under development, including 375 MW in late-stage development.
NaturEner USA, LLC and NaturEner Energy Canada Inc. are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Spain-based Grupo NaturEner, S.A. which develops, owns, and operates renewable energy facilities in three different countries comprising mini-hydro, solar photovoltaic, and wind power.