COOS COUNTY – The sale of the 99-megawatt Granite Reliable Power Wind Farm to a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, Inc., is expected to take place by the end of the month. When the transaction is finalized, ownership control will pass from the subsidiary of one energy giant, Brookfield Renewable Energy, to a subsidiary of the company that owns the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant.
The N.H. Site Evaluation Subcommittee issued a draft order Monday morning approving the transaction with one condition. The SEC wants an updated estimate of the cost of decommissioning the wind farm. The decommissioning fund currently has $83,000 plus an estimate of the salvage value of the wind farm. SEC Chair Dianne Martin said she wanted to make sure the account is fully funded.
With 33 wind turbines strung along the ridgeline in the Phillips Brook watershed, the wind farm is the largest in the state.
Current ownership is 89.5 percent held by BAIF U.S. Renewable Power, a subsidiary of Brookfield Renewable Power. The remaining 10.5 percent is owned by Freshet Wind Energy. When the transfer is complete, expected by the end of this month, the entire wind farm will be owned by Tusk Wind Holdings, III, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Partners.
In their joint filing before the SEC, the parties said Freshet and BAIF U.S. Renewable Power entered into a purchase and sale agreement in April to transfer all membership interests in Granite Reliable Power to Tusk. The filing said initial funding for the project would be provided by NextEra Energy Partners. While the purchase price was not revealed, NextEra said it had sufficient liquidity to complete the transaction at closing, noting its renewable energy program has raised approximately $11 billion in capital since 2014 to finance its growth and operations and currently has $1.6 billion available.
Large energy projects in the state require a certificate of site and facility from the SEC. In seeking to transfer that certificate to Tusk, the new owner must show it has the financial, managerial and technical capabilities to own and operate the wind farm.
NextEra Energy Vice President Matthew Rosket said their analysis determined that cash flow generated by the sale of electricity and other attributes will cover the wind farm’s operating costs and ongoing capital investments. Rosket testified that through its various subsidiaries, NextEra Energy currently owns 126 wind projects with more than 9,800 wind turbines.
Furthermore, he said they will retain the current Granite Reliable Power employees.
The subcommittee voted unanimously that the applicant had proven it has the capabilities required by the certificate.
Coos County Commissioner Paul Grenier said the county is watching the transaction closely. The majority of the wind farms fall within the county’s unincorporated places and the commission met with officials of both companies at its July meeting. The wind farm makes an annual payment-in-lieu-of-taxes and the 20-year agreement allows the parties to renegotiate the agreement at the ten-year mark, which will be 2022.
Grenier said he believes a PILOT agreement benefits both parties by avoiding the cost of a revaluation and the need to review financial statements including renewable energy credit revenues. He said he is hopeful the county and new owner can agree on a PILOT.
Grenier said there is one financial benefit for the county is the sale will generate substantial real estate transfer tax revenues.
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