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Market scan: a mighty financial wind

Tuesday saw two deals in the wind power sector.

General Electric announced an investment in three windparks planned by Nobel Environmental Power in New York that would expand the state’s wind energy capacity by 70%, and Empire District Electric announced it had signed an agreement to purchase power from Horizon Wind Energy’s Cloud County Wind Farm in Kansas.

GE, which is based in Fairfield, Conn., said the windparks would generate 282 megawatts in the upstate New York towns of Clinton and Ellenburg in Clinton County, and Bliss in Wyoming County. The deal through its GE Energy Financial Services unit represents a $564 million investment in clean, renewable energy that will bring an estimated $352 million in new revenue to the regional economies over the next 20 years, it said.

Nobel, which is based in Essex, Conn., will construct, operate and manage the facilities. According to GE, the three windparks will annually produce electricity sufficient to power more than 93,000 average U.S. homes and will avoid nearly 590,000 tons per year in greenhouse gas emissions.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed and the deal is subject to federal and state regulatory approvals. Nobel was founded in 2004 and is majority owned by JP Morgan Partners. It was founded in response to public policy initiatives designed to foster increased use of renewable energy.

GE shares finished the day down a half a percent, or 19 cents, at $38.02.

Tuesday also brought an announcement from Empire District Electric, an electric utility company, that it signed a 20-year power agreement with Cloud County Wind Farm, which is owned by the Houston, Texas-based Horizon Wind Energy.

Under the agreement, Empire will buy approximately 100 megawatts of energy from Meridian Way Wind Farm in Kansas. Empire also said it expects to buy about 350,000 megawatt hours of energy annually from the project, enough, according to the company, to meet the annual electricity needs of approximately 25,000 homes.

Shares of the Joplin, Mo.-based company closed unchanged at $22.18.

By Carl Gutierrez

Forbes

26 June 2007