January 9, 2013 - NaturEner USA, LLC
San Francisco, California – January 9, 2013 - NaturEner is pleased to announce the commencement of Commercial Operations of its Rim Rock Wind Farm near Kevin, Montana as of December 28th, 2012. This tremendous achievement has been accomplished on time and on budget and has required an enormous multiyear effort by hundreds of people. The Rim Rock Project represents a significant milestone for the company and brings NaturEner’s portfolio of operating assets to 399 MW in Montana.
The 189 MW Rim Rock Project is comprised of 126 Acciona AW77 1.5 MW wind turbines and is expected to generate enough energy each year to power the equivalent of nearly 60,000 homes. This is the third project completed by NaturEner in North Central Montana, and expands its use of the highly reliable Acciona technology. NaturEner has a strong commitment to the State of Montana and is very grateful for the continued support received from Local and State authorities as well as from the landowners on which the Project is located. The Rim Rock Project has contributed over $40 MM to Montana’s economy, and annual property tax payments to Toole and Glacier Counties are expected to exceed $2.5MM. With the completion of this Project, NaturEner has now invested nearly a billion dollars in the State and will continue to seek further development opportunities in Montana going forward.
“NaturEner has been an outstanding partner in our efforts to develop one of Montana’s most abundant resources – wind. Montana was producing less than 1 MW in 2004 and now produces 645 MW of energy from wind. It is safe to say that Montana’s wind energy industry is booming, creating jobs, and generating revenue for local governments,” said former Governor Brian Schweitzer.
"I look forward to working with companies like NaturEner to create more jobs for Montanans and provide a much-needed economic boost in the rural areas of our state. These investments in renewable sources of energy, like wind, will benefit Montanans for many years to come, and are a critical part of a diversified energy portfolio." Governor Steve Bullock.
NaturEner is committed to further its development activities while honoring and respecting the environments in which it operates. To minimize the impact of this Project on nearby nesting raptor habitat, NaturEner relocated 25 turbines on the east side of the project. This effort was executed after the project design was finalized and construction had already started, and was the direct result of the well-documented and supported consultation provided to NaturEner by Montana Audubon. This collaborative approach to finding practical means to minimize wildlife impacts was recently captured by a Memorandum of Understanding executed between Montana Audubon and NaturEner.
The completion of construction of the Project before the end of 2012 ensured that the Project qualified for Federal Production Tax Credits, and enables investment, subject to satisfaction of certain conditions precedent, from its Tax Equity Partner, San Diego Gas & Electric. The financing package with San Diego Gas & Electric contemplates a landmark approach and will represent the first time an Investor Owned Utility has been directly involved in a Tax Equity financing of a wind energy project in the United States. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester in helping to secure an extension of the Federal Production Tax Credits through 2013, this critical program continues to be available to the wind industry.
“Rim Rock has supported hundreds of Montana jobs harnessing Montana-made power. And projects like this are exactly why I fought so hard to continue the wind tax cut. From wind, to oil, to coal, Montana has it all, and we need to support energy development across the board to bring as many jobs to Montana as we can,” said Baucus.
“Montana’s wind industry and the wind energy tax credit play a key role in strengthening our energy security and our economy,” Tester said. “NaturEner’s success proves that wind will continue to create Montana jobs and provide affordable energy for our families and small businesses.”
The Rim Rock Project will employ a very sophisticated portfolio of contracts and operating protocols to enable its integration into the Electrical Grid, and represents a new benchmark for the industry in how to develop and operate Renewable Generation in North America. As a result of its portfolio of integration products, Rim Rock will be able to consistently deliver firmed wind energy, while complying with up to two-hour-ahead-scheduling requirements. The Rim Rock Project will also leverage off of the Company’s unique capacity to operate and manage intermittent generation sources through the newly certified NaturEner Wind Watch Balancing Authority, the second wind-only Balancing Authority certified for operation in the United States. The NaturEner Operations Center (NOC), based out of San Francisco, recently upgraded its operations capabilities, including those for its other wind-only certified Balancing Authority, NaturEner Power Watch, to facilitate integration of the new Rim Rock Project, and to ensure a robust and consistent supply of power to the Western Interconnect.
The power from the Rim Rock Project will be sold to Morgan Stanley Capital Group through a comprehensive Power Purchase Agreement, while the Environmental Attributes will be sold, subject to satisfaction of certain conditions precedent, to San Diego Gas & Electric to further enable its compliance under the California Renewable Portfolio Standards. Upon completion of construction of the transmission line, power generated at the Project will be distributed by the Montana Alberta Tie Line. NaturEner has contracted on a long-term basis for the entire northbound capacity of that transmission line.
José M Sánchez-Seara, NaturEner USA’s CEO “would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has been a part of the Rim Rock Project and has enabled the company to reach this important milestone. Without the ongoing support of the Local, State, and Federal authorities as well as the Project’s neighbors, investors, lenders and NaturEner’s Team we would not be where we are today.”
Next in the pipeline for NaturEner are the Wild Rose 1 & 2 projects, under development in Alberta. These projects represent another 400 MW of wind energy capacity and will double the operating portfolio of the Company. NaturEner will look to leverage its success to date, and anticipates commencement of construction of those projects in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
NaturEner Energy Canada Inc. and NaturEner USA, LLC are wholly‐owned subsidiaries of Spain‐based Grupo NaturEner, S.A. Together, they have developed renewable energy facilities in three different countries comprising mini‐hydro, solar photovoltaic, and utility‐scale wind.
NaturEner manages and integrates the production from its projects through its wind‐only Balancing Authorities, Power Watch and Wind Watch. NaturEner’s Operations Center is a fully enabled, state‐of‐the‐art, 24/7 facility, developed for the purpose of supporting both commercial and operational functions for NaturEner’s operating projects.
Further information about NaturEner is available at www.naturener.net
Media Contact: Maria Luisa Beveridge at (415) 217-5500