Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ArcLight Teams With GE and Singapore's GIC to Form Largest Fully Independent Power Producer in US Southeast

/PRNewswire/ -- ArcLight Capital Partners, LLC ("ArcLight"), GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of GE (NYSE: GE), and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation Pte Ltd ("GIC") announced today they have agreed to become partners in five Georgia natural gas-fired power plants that together make up the largest fully independent power producer in the southeastern United States. The GE unit and GIC will each acquire 24.95 percent of the portfolio from an affiliate of ArcLight, now its sole owner. An affiliate of ArcLight will retain 50.10 percent.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. The closing of the transaction remains subject to approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and is expected to occur toward the end of the first quarter of 2011.

The plants, located throughout Georgia, comprise a combined cycle facility and four single-cycle peaking facilities, each of which is less than 10 years old. Together, they are capable of generating more than 2,500 megawatts of power, in several cases using GE gas-fired turbines. All five facilities, critical to the regional power supply and grid stability, are contracted under long-term agreements to investment-grade counterparties and are managed by Consolidated Asset Management Services, an ArcLight affiliate.

The portfolio comprises:

* Monroe – a 320-megawatt plant in Monroe, 50 miles east of Atlanta
* Walton – a 450-megawatt plant in Monroe, adjacent to the Monroe plant
* Washington – a 602-megawatt plant in Linton, 50 miles east of Macon
* Sandersville – a 640-megawatt plant in Sandersville, seven miles from the Washington plant
* Effingham – a 515-megawatt plant in Rincon, 20 miles north of Savannah


The portfolio is well positioned to benefit from the macroeconomic recovery and more stringent energy and carbon legislation as well as the boom in production of unconventional natural gas in the United States. In addition, the portfolio will support additional infrastructure investment in the region to meet the demand for power and accommodate the power supply reconfiguration expected to unfold over the next decade.

"Since the initial investment in this portfolio in 2007, ArcLight and CAMS have developed a strong track record of operational success and commercial reliability in a promising regional market," said Dan Revers, Managing Partner of ArcLight. "We are excited about the opportunity to partner with these two highly respected and valued-added investors, and we look forward to working closely with GE and GIC to maximize value across the portfolio and platform."

ArcLight has completed several transactions with GE Energy Financial Services, including the GE unit's lead lending of $98 million in senior secured credit facilities for the Sandersville power plant.

"This transaction enables us to deepen our relationship with ArcLight, establish ties with an important new partner, GIC, and work together on an attractive set of assets in a core focus area, thermal power generation," said Kevin Walsh, managing director and leader of Power and Renewables at GE Energy Financial Services.

"This is an attractive portfolio of contracted power generation facilities in a region experiencing an increasing demand for low carbon, efficient power. The completion of this transaction complements our growing portfolio of infrastructure investments in the US. We are delighted to have ArcLight and GE, who have extensive experience in owning and operating similar assets, as our partners in this deal," said Mr. Ang Eng Seng, Global Head of GIC's Infrastructure Group.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Southern Company and Ted Turner Energize Cimarron Solar Facility

/PRNewswire/ -- The clean and plentiful sunshine of New Mexico is now producing electricity for some 9,000 homes as the Cimarron Solar Facility has begun commercial operation. At 30 megawatts, Cimarron is among the nation's largest solar photovoltaic plants.

The facility is the first resulting from the partnership between Southern Company (NYSE: SO) and Ted Turner and will supply power to the member electric cooperatives of Denver-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar, Inc., (Nasdaq: FSLR) developed and constructed the facility and will provide operation and maintenance services under a long-term contract.

"This is a key milestone for Southern Company as we steadily incorporate more renewables into our energy portfolio," said Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Tom Fanning. "Renewables, along with new nuclear, increased energy efficiency, 21st century coal technology and additional natural gas, all will be crucial to meeting this nation's growing energy demand."

Fanning also noted that New Mexico, with its abundant solar resources, was an ideal location to establish the company's first commercial-scale solar operation.

The 364-acre plant site is located within the service territory of Tri-State member system Springer Electric Cooperative in Colfax County, N.M., and is adjacent to Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch.

Southern Company and Turner Renewable Energy acquired the project from First Solar in March 2010. Turner Renewable Energy is a wholly owned subsidiary of Turner Enterprises with a focus on development of commercial-scale solar projects.

"We are very excited to see this project completed and producing clean solar energy to power homes and businesses in New Mexico," said Turner. "Large-scale solar generation is among the fastest growing energy sources in the world, and we're pleased that we can be a part of that growth."

Initially expected to go on line by the end of 2010, the facility was completed in eight months and began commercial operation in early December, nearly a month ahead of schedule. More than 300 workers were employed to construct the plant, which uses approximately 500,000 2'x 4' advanced thin film photovoltaic modules manufactured by First Solar.

"The Cimarron Solar Facility demonstrates First Solar's capabilities in utility scale projects," said Frank De Rosa, First Solar Senior Vice President of Project Development, North America. "Integrating technology, manufacturing, project development and engineering, procurement and construction expertise enables First Solar to be a leader in sustainable energy development."

Electricity generated by the plant will serve a 25-year power purchase agreement with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a not-for-profit wholesale power supplier to 44 electric cooperatives serving 1.5 million consumers across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming. The project further expands Tri-State's focus on providing renewable generation for its members, as the association also announced late last year that its Kit Carson Windpower Project began commercial operation in eastern Colorado.

"The Cimarron Solar Facility is another example of our ability to harness and utilize the abundant natural resources that are available to us in the West," said Ken Anderson, Tri-State's executive vice president and general manager. "Working with our partners, we have made a significant technology investment in the rural communities we serve, while further diversifying Tri-State's renewable resource mix."

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Friday, January 21, 2011

In Landmark Move, EPA Approves Higher Ethanol Blend for Vehicles Built in Last Decade

/PRNewswire/ -- Growth Energy announced today that U.S. jobs will be created, carbon removed from the air, and our national security made stronger with a decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today to raise the amount of ethanol that can be blended into our fuel from 10 percent (E10) to 15 percent (E15) for all vehicles built in the last decade.

The decision today to permit E15 for 2001-to-2006 model year vehicles follows an October decision by EPA to permit blends up to E15 in vehicles 2007 model year and newer. The EPA was responding to a regulatory petition, the Green Jobs Waiver, filed in March 2009 by Growth Energy, America's leading voice for ethanol supporters and producers.

A full move to E15 creates a bigger market for American ethanol that could help create as many as 136,000 new jobs in the United States and eliminate as much as 8 million metric tons of GHG emissions from the air in a year — the equivalent of taking 1.35 million vehicles off the road. Increasing the domestic, renewable fuel supply would also displace some of the 7 billion gallons of oil that is imported every day into the United States from countries such as Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, at a cost of more than $300 billion annually to our economy.

"This is a bold move forward, changing America's energy future for the better," said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. "Increased use of ethanol will strengthen our energy security, create U.S. jobs, and improve the environment by displacing conventional gasoline with a low-carbon fuel."

Buis added that with engine and emissions systems testing on cars 2001 through 2010 complete – and showing no issues with using E15 as a fuel – EPA's approval of E15 should be extended to older vehicles to make continued progress in reducing America's dependence on foreign oil.

"There are many more steps we can take toward achieving our energy security and environmental goals. We commend the EPA and we urge them to continue testing E15 for all vehicles, so that every American motorist has the opportunity to use a blend of fuel that is proven to be better for our economy, our security and our environment."

The previous E10 standard – which permits up to 10 percent ethanol blended into fuel – was set in the 1970s to help spur the growth of a domestic, renewable fuels industry in answer to America's first major oil crisis, engineered by OPEC. Since then, the United States has remained addicted to foreign oil; two-thirds of the oil used in this country comes from overseas.

In March 2009, Growth Energy filed a petition with EPA to permit the raising of that regulatory cap on the ethanol blend from 10 percent to 15 percent to displace more foreign oil.

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