Arctas Sells Largest Central American Wind Plant to AEI
HOUSTON, TX, May 13, 2010 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Arctas announced today that it has sold its 47.5% joint controlling interest in the 63MW Amayo I and Amayo II wind projects in Nicaragua to AEI, one of the largest emerging markets power and gas companies. AEI, together with its partner Centrans, a regional energy and shipping company based in Guatemala, have increased their joint holdings in Amayo to 95% with local partners owning the remaining 5% of each project. The amount of the transaction is undisclosed, but the two-phase Amayo project represents an investment of approximately US $150 million, among the largest privately developed energy investments in Central America.
David Haug, Managing Director of Arctas, stated, "This sale is significant because even in a challenging region in the midst of a global financial slowdown, Arctas was able to achieve its objective of attracting a world class owner of emerging market power projects, enabling us to continue to deploy capital in new development efforts. Nicaragua may surprise people with the strong investment fundamentals compared to other emerging markets in addition to the fantastic wind resource and government enthusiasm for renewables."
Amayo is the largest wind plant in operation in Central America and the only one to be completed outside of Costa Rica. It will provide approximately eight percent of the total power consumed in Nicaragua. The country now joins Denmark, Portugal and Spain as one of the top five countries that generate power from wind. Arctas and Centrans brought on-line the first 40MW phase of Amayo in early 2009 and the second 23MW in April 2010. Located on the shores of Lake Nicaragua south of Rivas and 11 kilometers north of the Costa Rican border, Amayo enjoys one of the best wind resources in the North American continent. Amayo will displace more than 400,000 barrels of imported fuel oil per year and reduce around 175,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. The plant's expected capacity factor is in excess of 47 percent, among the highest in the world.
Despite the difficult financial markets and the cancellation of many projects in the US and Europe during 2008 and 2009, the second 23MW phase was completed in 14 months from start of permitting to full commercial operation, thought to be a record for a wind project anywhere.
Nicaragua suffers from high electricity prices due to the high cost of imported fuel oil used to produce most of the country's electric power. The Amayo project has helped lower electricity prices for the country in addition to providing environmental benefits. Unlike wind projects in the US and Europe, Amayo does not receive government price subsidies, yet is currently selling power at a price more than forty percent lower than the average wholesale spot price over the past four years.