TransCanada buys solar energy projects for $470 million

Nine projects totalling 86MW to be developed and build by Canadian Solar.

Comments Off on TransCanada buys solar energy projects for $470 million December 20, 2011
by Canadian Press

CALGARY — TransCanada Corporation, a major pipeline operator and power producer, has expanded its alternative energy business with a deal to buy nine solar power projects in Ontario for $470 million.

The big Calgary company said Tuesday it had had agreed to buy Ontario solar projects from Canadian Solar Solutions Inc., with a combined capacity of 86 megawatts.

All nine projects have 20-year power purchase agreements with the Ontario Power Authority.

“The addition of these solar projects allows us to expand and add to our diverse power generating portfolio where a third of the power we own, or have interests in, comes from alternative or renewable energy sources,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive, said before stock markets opened Tuesday.

“Upon close of this acquisition, this low-risk investment is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings and cash flow.”

Under the agreement, each of the nine solar projects will be developed and built by Canadian Solar using their photovoltaic panels. TransCanada will buy each project after it begins commercial operation and subject to certain milestones being met.

The energy giant said it expects the projects will come into service between late 2012 and mid-2013 in Ontario, where the company has become the largest independent power producer in the province.

Ontario has been moving to grow its alternative energy business — solar, wind, biomass and other fuels — as it phases out coal-fired power generation.

In a research note Tuesday, Desjardins Securities said the solar power expansion could add about $60 million in annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to the company, about one per cent of forecast profit for 2013.

“Although we view TRP’s entry into the fast-growing Canadian solar power market as a positive development, based on the size of capital committed to the solar projects and the potential financial impact, we would not expect a material reaction from (its) shares,” Desjardins said.

Though best known for its massive pipeline network that ships Western Canadian gas to markets in Canada and the United States, TransCanada has also come to public attention for its $7 billion proposal to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The controversial megaproject would deliver oilsands crude from northern Alberta and new U.S. supplies from North Dakota to refineries along the Texas Gulf coast. It has come under fire from critics and environmentalists and is still awaiting approval in early 2013.

TransCanada currently operates the largest wind farm in Canada, and the largest wind farm in New England. Its hydroelectric plants span three states in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont.

The company is also a partner in Canada’s first private nuclear generator — the Bruce nuclear power plant on the shores of Lake Huron — which currently produces 4,700 MW of electricity in Ontario.

Canadian Solar Inc. is one of the world’s largest solar companies, with operations in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

© 2011 The Canadian Press