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GE Investing To Expland Wind Energy Portfolio

GE Energy Financial Services has agreed to invest in two wind farms in Texas with a total capacity of 321 megawatts. Shown here is one of the two new wind farms, Sweetwater 4.
by Staff Writers
Sweetwater TX (SPX) Jun 05, 2007
GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of General Electric, has agreed to invest in its biggest wind farm, the 241-megawatt Sweetwater 4 facility, along with a sister project in Texas. The announcement was made today at Universal Studios California at GE's "Green is Universal" exhibition, a celebration of GE customers' improvements in operating and environmental performance.

GE Energy Financial Services agreed to invest $180 million for 50 percent of the structured equity, with a subsidiary of Wachovia Corp. providing the balance, in two adjacent wind farms 20 miles southwest of Sweetwater, Texas, in Nolan County. Prior to this closing, the project was solely owned by global investment and advisory firm Babcock and Brown and Catamount Energy, a renewable energy company.

Under the new structure, Babcock and Brown and Catamount will remain equity investors and co-managing members. Babcock and Brown will continue to manage and operate the wind farm for the benefit of the partners. Babcock and Brown's interest in the Sweetwater 4 project is part of the US07 wind farm projects, which Babcock and Brown has offered to the separately listed wind energy infrastructure fund Babcock and Brown Wind Partners. Phases 1,2 and 3 of the Sweetwater project form part of the Babcock and Brown Wind Partners global portfolio of wind farms.

The Sweetwater 4 wind farm employs 135 Mitsubishi 1.0-megawatt turbines and 46 Siemens 2.3-megawatt turbines. Its output will be sold to San Antonio's CPS Energy, a municipally owned energy company providing both natural gas and electric service, under a 20-year purchase agreement.

Construction of the Sweetwater 4 farm began last August, with completion this month. Using 35 Siemens turbines, the Sweetwater 5 (80-megawatt) wind farm's output will be sold at market prices. Construction of Sweetwater 5 began in February, with completion expected by December.

"This investment - along with a transaction we announced today in Roscoe, TX -- brings the total capacity our global wind equity holdings to more than 1,900 megawatts, and further diversifies our wind technology," said Kevin Walsh, Managing Director and leader of renewable energy at GE Energy Financial Services.

"And, in the spirit of GE's ecomagination initiative, these two wind farms will produce enough power for more than 90,000 homes and avoid 730,000 tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to equivalent fossil fuel generation." Ecomagination is GE's initiative to help its customers meet their environmental challenges while expanding its own portfolio of cleaner energy products.

The project helps Texas, which leads all US states in installed wind power capacity, meet its target of generating 5,880 megawatts of its power from renewable sources by 2015.

With this transaction and an investment announced today in Roscoe, TX, GE Energy Financial Services has invested or committed to invest equity in 29 wind farms. Closing of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval. Additional financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

"It is exciting to see the growth of this project," said Hunter Armistead, head of Babcock and Brown's wind energy group in North America. "The addition of phases 4 and 5 brings the total capacity of the Sweetwater project to 585 MW and makes it one of the largest wind farms in the world."

"Babcock and Brown and its infrastructure fund, Babcock and Brown Wind Partners have made a significant commitment to renewable energy in Texas. We value our relationship with General Electric, Wachovia and Catamount, and we appreciate the shared commitment to increasing the production of renewable energy. We look forward to working together on future projects."

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