First Wind Secures $210M in Financing for Wind Project in Washington State

Lenders are warming up to the alternative-energy market, as evidenced by the $210 million financing package First Wind just acquired on behalf of its subsidiary, Palouse Wind L.L.C.

December 22, 2011
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

Lenders are warming up to the alternative-energy market, as evidenced by the $210 million financing package First Wind just acquired on behalf of its subsidiary, Palouse Wind L.L.C. The funds will allow for the continued construction of Palouse Wind, a 105 MW project in Whitman County, Wash., that, upon completion, will be the largest renewable energy facility in the U.S.

Financing for the project, which will be able to power 30,000 homes in the Whitman county area through the generation of clean energy, came in the form of a $170 million construction and term facility loan, and letters of credit totaling as much as $40 million. Serving as joint-lead arrangers were KeyBank N.A., which also took on the role of administrative agent, Nordduetsche Landesbank Girozentrale, CoBank ACB, and Banco Santander.

Construction of Palouse Wind, located approximately 40 miles south of Spokane near the town of Oakesdale, got underway in October with RMT Inc. onboard as general contractor. The project has been four years in the making and, with the necessary financing in place, it remains on track to come online before the end of 2012.

Wind projects are popping up across the country at an increasing rate. The total installed wind capacity in the U.S. totaled 43,461 MW as of the close of the third quarter, according to a report by the American Wind Energy Association, and 90 projects accounting for an additional 8,400 MW were under construction at that time.

Banks blew plenty of money in the direction of alternative energy endeavors this year. In October, Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc. and Rabobank arranged a $300 million, three-year project finance revolving credit facility for SunEdison’s construction of utility and rooftop solar projects across the U.S. and Canada. Wells Fargo & Co. has also been quite active on the renewable energy scene, having provided over $200 million as the construction lender for SunEdison’s five-site photovoltaic solar power project in New Mexico.

However, it is not just the banking industry that is supplying financial backing for such pursuits. Earlier this year, with a combined $500 million investment, Google Inc., Itochu Corp. and Sumitomo Corp. became partners with GE Energy Financial Services and Caithness Energy in the ownership of the $2 billion, 845-MW Shepherds Flat wind farm under construction in Oregon. Google also joined Citigroup Inc. to provide $102 million each for the 1,550 MW Alta Wind Energy Center under development by developed by Terra-Gen Power L.L.C. in California.