Owner of 5 Maine wind farms refinances $385 million debt, says transaction reflects confidence in renewable energy market
PORTLAND, Maine – After a false start earlier this year, Northeast Wind, the joint venture between First Wind and Halifax-based Emera that now owns five wind farms in Maine, has successfully refinanced its $385 million in debt.
The joint venture, formed by the two companies in June 2012, previously attempted to refinance its debt in August but postponed the effort because the market wasn’t offering favorable terms. At the time, questions were raised as to whether the false start reflected a market shift away from renewable energy.
The fact Northeast Wind has successfully refinanced its debt with favorable terms should put those speculations to rest, according to John Lamontagne, First Wind’s spokesman.
“I think the transaction demonstrates there is a high level of confidence in First Wind, our operating projects in Maine and the Northeast, and in our joint venture with Emera,” Lamontagne wrote in an email to the Bangor Daily News.
The refinancing was accomplished through the issuance of a new corporate credit facility, consisting of a $320 million Term Loan B debt facility and a $75 million Letter of Credit facility, according to Lamontagne.
“We are pleased that our offering was highly attractive in this market,” Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind, said in a statement. “It demonstrates a high level of confidence in the wind industry and in our joint venture with Emera. The partners in this joint venture continue to work together to improve the operating efficiency of the project portfolio and look forward to new investments in 2014.”
Northeast Wind was created in 2012 when First Wind transferred 385 megawatts of wind energy projects in New England, including all four of its projects in Maine – Mars Hill, Rollins Wind, Stetson Wind I and II – to the new company. A fifth Maine project, Bull Hill in Hancock County, was added later in 2012.
Emera then invested $211 million to own 49 percent of the new company, with First Wind owning the remaining 51 percent. In addition, Emera loaned $150 million to First Wind, which owns Bangor Hydro Electric Co. and Maine Public Service Co., according to Dina Bartolacci Seely, a spokeswoman for Emera
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