Construction to begin on 218 MW wind farm project; deal is latest in series of major financings by Milbank for large U.S. renewable energy providers
In its latest large project financing in the U.S. renewable energy sector, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP represented the lender group in funding the construction of a major new wind farm under development on 18,000 acres in Carson County, located some 30 miles from Amarillo, Texas.
The 218 MW first phase of the Panhandle Wind Project is being developed by Pattern Energy as part of Texas’s new Competitive Renewable Energy Zone. Expected to be operational in 2014, the facility will connect to the state’s main power grid, generating wind power through 118 turbines built by General Electric. GE Energy Financial Services and Citigroup Inc. are contributing tax equity to Pattern Panhandle Wind.
Milbank represented the construction lenders and back-leverage lenders in connection with the project. Construction financing is being provided by Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Bayerische Landesbank, Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale, Société Générale, Royal Bank of Canada, The Royal Bank of Scotland plc, and Landesbank Baden-Wurttemberg. Separately, back-leverage financing will be provided by Bayerische Landesbank and Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale. Banks are also providing certain letters of credit.
Milbank project finance partner Allan Marks led the deal team on behalf of the lender group. Mr. Marks notes, “This innovative transaction shows that financial markets still support well-structured wind energy projects that have strong wind resources and transmission line access, even without long term power purchase agreements in place. The Panhandle project attracted fully subscribed debt and equity from significant market players, reflecting confidence in Pattern as a developer and operator and the value of an energy hedge with solid off-take arrangements.”
Also working on the transaction were Milbank project finance associates Laurae Rossi, Marco McClees, Deana Brown, Hao Huang and Erin Hyun, with additional assistance from Eric Moser and Brian Lee (hedges), Leah Karlov (tax), Matthew Ahrens (environmental), Jim Liles (regulatory) and David Zolkin (intercreditor issues).
“This multi-tiered financing package represents a landmark in bringing different techniques together at once – including syndicated construction loans, tax equity, strategic equity, back-leverage debt, and an energy hedge – to make the project viable and rewarding for all parties,” says Marks.
Marks has advised lenders, sponsors, and other key players in a number of large renewable energy deals in the United States and Latin America. Recent matters include the 265 MW Ocotillo wind project in Southern California, Vivint Solar’s recent tax equity funding for a multi-state portfolio of residential solar projects, the Kahuku wind farm in Hawaii (with federal loans guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Energy), and the 115 MW El Arrayán project, Chile’s largest wind farm.
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy