First Wind, Emera seek New York non-approval of asset sale deal

Various affiliates of First Wind and Emera filed a Nov. 25 request with the New York State Public Service Commission related to Emera’s announced plan to sell its 49% interest in a renewable energy developer to First Wind, which already controls the other 51%.

First Wind Holdings LLC, First Wind Operating Co. LLC, First Wind Northeast Co. LLC, Northeast Wind Partners II LLC, CSSW Cohocton Holdings LLC, New York Wind LLC, Canandaigua Power Partners LLC (CPP) and Canandaigua Power Partners II LLC (CPP II) (collectively, the “First Wind Petitioners”) filed the application. Also parties to the application were Northeast Wind Holdings LLC, SunEdison Inc. and TerraForm Power LLC.

They petitioned the commission for a declaratory ruling that Section 70 of the Public Service Law (PSL) does not apply to a series of proposed transactions which will result in Northeast Wind Holdings selling its 49% interest in Northeast Wind Partners to First Wind Northeast, TerraForm acquiring all of the membership interests in First Wind Operating, and SunEdison acquiring all of the membership interests in First Wind.

“Petitioners respectfully submit that these Proposed Transactions should not be reviewed because each of the transactions involves a transfer of upstream ownership interests in lightly regulated wholesale merchant generating facilities and qualifies for the Wallkill presumption,” they told the PSC. “Alternatively, Petitioners request the Commission to approve the proposed transactions pursuant to Section 70.”

CPP and CPP II own and operate the Cohocton (87.5 MW) and Dutch Hill (37.5 MW) Wind Projects, respectively, in the Town of Cohocton, New York. First Wind also indirectly owns Niagara Wind Power LLC (“Steel Winds”) and Erie Wind LLC (“Steel Winds II”). Steel Winds owns and operates a 20-MW wind project in Lackawanna, New York. Steel Winds II owns and operates a 15-MW wind project in Lackawanna, New York.

In addition to its New York projects, First Wind subsidiaries own and operate approximately 232.4 MW of generating capacity within the ISO New England balancing area authority, consisting of the following projects: the Bull Hill Project in Maine (34.2 MW) the Stetson I (57 MW) and Stetson Wind II Projects (25.5 MW) in Maine, the Rollins Project in Maine (60 MW), the Sheffield Project in Vermont (40 MW), and 15.7 MW in several solar generating facilities in Massachusetts. First Wind’s subsidiaries have numerous other North American renewable energy projects in development. First Wind does not own or operate any generating capacity within the PJM Interconnection balancing area authority.

Northeast Wind Holdings is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Emera. Northeast Wind Holdings holds 49% of the membership interests in Northeast Wind Partners. Under this pending deal, Emera will no longer own any of the membership interests in Northeast Wind Partners, or indirectly, CPP and CPP II.

Canadian utility holding company Emera (TSX: EMA) said Nov. 17 that it will sell its 49% interest in Northeast Wind Partners II to its 51% partner, First Wind Holdings, for US$223.3m. Northeast Wind owns and operates a 419-MW portfolio of wind generating assets located in the Northeast United States. Emera acquired its interest in Northeast Wind in 2012. Emera’s sale is part of a larger deal which will see 100% of First Wind sold to a third party, and is conditional on that transaction closing, Emera noted. Both transactions are targeted to close in the first quarter of 2015, subject to regulatory approvals.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.