Buyer emerges for bankrupt SunEdison’s wind project

Darren Fishell, Special to The County
8 years ago

Project proposed for land northwest of Houlton

PORTLAND, Maine — The San Francisco-based wind energy investors Pattern Energy Group Inc. has reached a deal with the now-bankrupt SunEdison to buy development rights for what would be the state’s single-largest wind farm, located in southern Aroostook County.

Pattern has agreed to buy rights to SunEdison’s proposed King Pine wind project for about $26.5 million, conditioned upon the project winning a supply contract from a group of southern New England states that solicited clean energy proposals in February.

The proposed 174-turbine, 600-megawatt project entered bidding for the southern New England procurement alongside a 250-megawatt southern Aroostook proposal from EDP Renewables. It also submitted a separate bid for its project alone.

If built to full capacity, the King Pine project would have more than three times the capacity of the state’s largest functioning wind farm, in Bingham, which SunEdison sold in December 2015 to a group of investors.

On the other hand, the project’s full capacity represents only about 16 percent of the 3,641 megawatts of wind power capacity seeking to connect to the grid in Maine as of January, according to the regional grid operator, ISO-New England.

Industry observers had speculated projects such as the proposed King Pine wind farm would attract other developers in the wake of SunEdison’s voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

That project is proposed for land in the Unorganized Territory northwest of Houlton on the border of Aroostook and Penobscot counties.

Both SunEdison and EDP joined with transmission companies Emera Maine and Central Maine Power Co. on the proposal to connect up to 1,250 megawatts of clean power capacity to the regional grid in deals with utilities in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

SunEdison’s sale to Pattern is dependent upon getting a deal for the project “ substantially as submitted” to the southern New England states earlier this year, according to the notice filed Thursday in bankruptcy court in New York.

If the project is selected as part of the clean energy procurement by the southern New England states, and meets other conditions, the deal calls for Pattern to pay SunEdison $13.5 million and another $13 million at closing for the purchase of a 100 percent interest in King Pine Wind LLC.

The prices bid into the southern New England procurement were redacted from proposals, but the court filing suggests the price for the King Pine project was at least 6.6 cents per kilowatt hour. The terms of the sale call for adjustments if the price used to start power price negotiations is lower than $66 per megawatt hour.

Representatives for Pattern and SunEdison were not immediately available Friday afternoon.

The notice submitted to the bankruptcy court Thursday also could encounter objections from parties in SunEdison’s bankruptcy. Parties have 14 calendar days to file objections with the court.

The deal also is set to expire if the regional proposal process is not completed by Oct. 27. In late May, the various parties evaluating those proposals announced they expect the review to last until July 26.