First Wind files Amendment 5 to SEC Registration Statement

Lots of great information about the process and financing of wind development in New York State and elsewhere contained in Amendment No. 5 to FORM S-1 REGISTRATION STATEMENT of First Wind Holdings, Inc. before the U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, filed March 26, 2010. As we know, New York is desirable for wind development because of a rich wind resource, relatively high electricity rates and its progressive renewable energy policies such as the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Here are some excerpts:

Our Portfolio of Wind Energy Projects
Operating Projects

Cohocton is a 125 MW project in Steuben County, New York. Cohocton commenced commercial operations in January 2009. The project consists of 50 2.5 MW Clipper turbines. Cohocton is the third largest wind project in the state of New York. Similar to Mars Hill (described below), Cohocton qualifies a portion of its energy for New England RECs. The project provides local benefits to the community through property tax revenue and economic development, along with local renewable power sales.

Cohocton wheels approximately 55% of its energy to ISO-NE where its RECs are sold to various counterparties. 40% of Cohocton’s RECs are sold to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) under 10-year, fully financeable contracts. The remaining 5% of Cohocton’s RECs is sold into the voluntary REC market. Cohocton’s power is also sold directly into NYISO Zone C where it receives floating power prices. To stabilize Cohocton’s electricity revenue, we entered into a swap with an affiliate of Credit Suisse for approximately 70% of expected generation through the end of 2014. Cohocton was among the first recipients of an ARRA grant, receiving approximately $76 million in September 2009. The remainder of our construction costs at Cohocton are financed with a combination of senior project debt from HSH Nordbank and Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale and structurally subordinated debt of CSSW, LLC. Our total installed development and construction costs for Cohocton were approximately $270 million, including approximately $10 million of financing-related costs and excluding prepaid turbine maintenance and warranty costs. We estimate Cohocton’s long-term NCF [net capacity factor] will be approximately 25% to 27%, as described further in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”…

Steel Winds I

Steel Winds I, which commenced commercial operations in June 2007, is a 20 MW project on the shores of Lake Erie in Lackawanna, New York, just south of Buffalo. The larger site on which the project is located was formerly a steel mill. The project consists of eight 2.5 MW Clipper turbines, the first turbines of this type Clipper produced. We undertook this project primarily as a means of testing and gaining operating experience with the Clipper wind turbines. The project’s relatively small size allowed us to initially finance the project with 100% equity, which provided more flexibility as we worked with Clipper to understand the technology and deal with start-up issues that can be common in new turbine designs. We anticipate expanding Steel Winds in 2010 to bring the total project size to 35 MW, which we believe will introduce benefits of scale.

For power at Steel Winds I we receive floating power prices within New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) Zone A. To stabilize this revenue, we entered into a swap with an affiliate of Morgan Stanley. The volume of this swap is approximately 95% of Steel Winds’ expected output. This hedge expires at the end of 2016. In January 2010, we entered into a five-year PPA with an affiliate of Just Energy Income Fund for all RECs from the project. Steel Winds I qualifies for PTCs and MACRS depreciation and receives cash payments for electricity and RECs. Our total installed development and construction costs for Steel Winds I were approximately $35 million, excluding prepaid turbine maintenance and warranty costs, and are financed by a combination of equity and structurally subordinated debt of CSSW, LLC. We estimate Steel Winds I’s long-term NCF will be approximately 29% to 31%, as described further in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”…

2010 Projects

…       Steel Winds II

Steel Winds II is a 15 MW expansion project in Lackawanna, New York. It will consist of six 2.5 MW Clipper turbines and will use our existing infrastructure, including interconnection equipment and site personnel. We are currently in the process of securing the necessary land and other rights to conduct and operate the project. The project’s System Reliability Impact Study and Facilities Study is complete and we are working towards an interconnection agreement with the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) and National Grid. While we continue to evaluate alternatives, we anticipate selling power from Steel Winds II directly into the market through NYISO Zone A and hedging our revenue with a financial swap. We estimate that our total installed development and construction costs for Steel Winds II will be approximately $40 million, including approximately $5 million of financing-related costs and excluding prepaid turbine maintenance and warranty costs. We estimate that Steel Winds II’s long-term NCF will be approximately 28% to 30%….

Purchase of Prattsburgh Real Property

On February 22, 2008, we entered into a purchase agreement with Windfarm Prattsburgh, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company and our indirect wholly owned subsidiary; UPC Wind Partners II, LLC; and BEC New York Properties, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company that is owned by Brian Caffyn, with respect to a parcel of land situated in the town of Prattsburgh, New York pursuant to which Windfarm Prattsburgh, LLC purchased the parcel of land from BEC New York Properties, LLC. Windfarm Prattsburgh, LLC agreed to purchase the parcel for (i) consideration of 152,527 Series A Units in UPC Wind Partners LLC to be granted to UPC Wind Partners II, LLC as the seller’s designee and (ii) a payment of $23,000 from Windfarm Prattsburgh, LLC to BEC New York Properties, LLC. In connection with that transaction, First Wind Holdings, LLC granted 152,527 Series A Units for non-cash consideration to UPC Wind Partners II, LLC….

Project Development Costs
… Should the Company decide to abandon or discontinue development of a Tier 1 project, previously capitalized costs are charged to expense in the period that such determination is made. At December 31, 2008, the Company determined that it was more likely than not that it would discontinue development of its Prattsburgh I project, which is located in New York. Upon reaching this determination, previously capitalized development costs of $3.5 million were expensed in December 2008 and included in project development expenditures in the statement of operations. In December 2009, the Company discontinued the development of the Prattsburgh I project….

Legal Proceedings

The Company is involved from time to time in litigation and disputes arising in the normal course of business, including proceedings contesting our permits or the operation of our projects. Management does not believe the following proceedings will, if determined adversely, have a material adverse effect on the financial condition, results of operations and liquidity of the Company:

On July 15, 2008, the Company was served with a civil subpoena by the New York State Attorney General relating to an investigation into its activities in the State of New York. In response to the subpoena, First Wind produced documents and information relating principally to the New York State Attorney General’s investigation into: (i) whether the Company improperly sought or obtained land-use agreements with citizens and public officials, (ii) whether improper benefits were given to public officials to influence their actions and (iii) whether the Company and its competitors entered into anti-competitive agreements or practices. The Company cooperated fully with the requests of the New York State Attorney General, with the assistance of outside counsel. Outside counsel also conducted its own internal investigation on behalf of the Company. On October 29, 2008, the Company voluntarily agreed to implement a Code of Conduct, created by the New York State Attorney General to govern the Company’s future conduct in connection with wind energy project development in New York State. The Company entered into a subsequent version of the New York code in October 2009. The Company has been advised by the New York State Attorney General’s office that it is not currently under investigation….

Source: First Wind SEC filing. See also “Wind-Power Developer First Wind To Price IPO In April”  from Dow Jones (3/31)

NYISO white paper on potential benefits of energy storage in NY electricity markets

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) has released a 16-page white paper highlighting the possibilities “Energy Storage in the New York Electricity Markets”. The document discusses potential benefits of energy storage, including those relating to intermittent sources of power generation, such as wind:

Wind power, in terms of both capacity and generation, has surged in New York State in recent years. Since the beginning of 2007, more than 1,200 megawatts of wind capacity has been added to the grid. The continued growth of wind as a generation resource is expected for the foreseeable future due to a variety of factors including open access to the grid, price signals provided by NYISO’s wholesale electricity markets, the State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), New York’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and the potential for Federal programs controlling carbon emissions.

The NYISO Interconnection Queue includes almost 7,000 megawatts of wind power projects, which represent about 40% of the generating capacity in the queue. While there are no guarantees that all of the proposed projects will be built, the significant number of potential projects is an indicator of the positive prospects for further wind development in New York State.

Energy storage resources, combined with the NYISO’s pioneering wind dispatch system, can help New York take full advantage of its wind power resources….

Source: NYISO, Energy Storage in the NY Electricity Market.  Also, NYISO press release. (3/2010)

NYS PSC meeting 10/28 to provide assessment of renewable initiatives

The New York State Public Service Commission (Commission) will hold a technical conference to explore issues associated with the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Program. Issues to be discussed include benefits and costs of the program, program design and implementation, and an assessment of the potential for the development of additional renewable energy resources and associated costs.

The technical conference will be held on Wednesday, October 28, 2009, in the 19th floor boardroom of the Commission’s Albany office at Three Empire State Plaza, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Live Internet broadcast can be viewed through NewYorkAdmin by accessing http://www.NewYorkAdmin.com from a computer capable of using RealPlayer.

Agenda here.

North Carolina Senate votes to limit mountaintop wind turbines

As reported in Green, Inc., at least one state legislature is wrestling head on with wind energy facility siting. [Postsctipt: Here’s news on another state, Wisconsin state wind siting legislation developments, from Wind for Wisconsin]

As reported, the North Carolina Senate voted overwhelmingly for Senate Bill 1068, which would limit ridge top wind turbines to those erected for the purpose of generating electricity for residential purposes and provided that they are no more than 100 feet tall to the hub.

The bill otherwise prescribes review conditions for wind facilities of 3 MW nameplate generation capacity or greater, including as such might impact scenic vistas. Wind power generating facilities would not be permitted if

Construction or operation of the facility would have a significant adverse impact on views from any State or national park, wilderness area, significant natural heritage area as compiled by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, or other public lands or private conservation lands designated or dedicated due to their high recreational values.

And it’s not like the state does not endorse renewables to any extent. Since 2007 it has had on the books a renewable portfolio standard.

Event: Planning and Implementation in an RPS Environment

Planning and Implementation in an RPS Environment
July 28 – 29; Hyatt Regency; Cambridge, MA

This conference will look at how utilities can proactively and effectively identify the various opportunities and obstacles they will face in meeting renewable portfolio standards.

Sponsor: Electric Utility Consultants Inc.
Web site: www.euci.com