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Canada Pension Plan dollars to help build U.S. wind farms

Investment board puts $200 million into Connecticut company

Your pension dollars at work: the people who run the Canada Pension Plan have announced their first direct investment in wind power, putting $200 million US into a Connecticut-based venture.

That is not big money for the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the Toronto-based operation that finds places to park the plan’s assets of $119 billion or so.

For the $200 million, the CPP gets “a significant minority interest” in Noble Environmental Power, founded in 2004 and owned mainly by affiliates of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the giant New York bank.

Noble has wind farms under development in states including New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Maine and Texas.

Mark Wiseman, the CPP board’s senior vice-president for private investments, would not disclose ownership percentages but said the JPMorgan interests retain the biggest stake in Noble.

“It is our first direct investment venture in wind power, that’s correct,” Wiseman told CBC News.

However, the CPP has private-equity and public-market holdings that give it “some indirect holdings in wind power,” he added.

The board is not giving Canadian wind power a cold shoulder, he said.

“We look for good risk-return investment opportunities all over the world. We happened to find this one in the U.S.”

The board is “quite interested in looking at those types of opportunities in Canada, should we find them,” he said.

CBC News

1 April 2008