May 7, 2002 — With plans for a major regional and international expansion into the renewable wind generation business, Central Vermont Public Service and subsidiary Catamount Energy today announced two partnerships that will develop wind projects in New England and the British Isles.
“We believe wind will be an increasingly important part of the energy mix here at home and around the world in the years ahead. It’s clean, it’s increasingly cost-effective, and it’s necessary globally to reduce reliance on dirty fossil fuels,” CVPS President Bob Young told shareholders at the company’s 73rd annual meeting.
“CVPS was the first company in the world to use wind-generated power to serve its customers, way back in 1941, when we built a turbine on Grandpa’s Knob in Castleton. Today, we are embarking on a return to those early roots, and are developing Catamount into a force in the wind generation industry.”
Catamount, CVPS’s unregulated generation subsidiary, has focused on renewable energy for the past 15 years, but has turned its focus entirely to wind in the past 12 months. The company already owns interests in two wind farms in Germany, and has several projects under development and consideration. The two new partnerships will significantly increase Catamount’s reach, and expectations for the company, CEO James Moore said.
“Catamount has just two small wind holdings so far,” Moore said. “In the next few years, we expect that these two deals will produce new wind projects that dwarf those holdings.”
Young said the financial and environmental effects of the new deals would be considerable.
“Catamount’s wind strategy will create long-term value for our shareholders, and its wind projects will make a difference for the environment, providing clean, renewable energy without degrading the air, the water or the land,” Young said. “As Vermonters, we see the environment a little differently than most, and as a leader in the renewable energy field, we will send a message that energy and the environment are not mutually exclusive.”
Catamount Energy has entered into a joint venture agreement with North American Renewables Corp., forming a new company, New England Windpower, that will develop, own and operate wind projects in New England. Moore said New England Windpower would look for opportunities to develop projects in New England between 2002 and 2004. New England Windpower’s principal office will be in Rutland.
“North American’s parent, Group EHN-Iberdrola, has vast experience and success in the wind business, which will enhance our ability to be successful,” Young said. “This is a great strategy for us as a business, and a great harbinger for our environment in the Northeast.”
Deutsche Bank, in a February analysts’ report, noted the explosive growth in the wind industry, and said it expected it to continue.
“Over the past five years the installed global base of wind energy has grown by a spectacular 30% per annum to total over 19 GW at the end of 2000,” Deutsche Bank said in the report. “We believe wind power is still the fastest growing power generation source available. This powerful growth has primarily been driven by a change in public sentiment and government policy towards environmental issues. Our longer-term fundamental view is that wind energy offers the cheapest way of reducing CO2 emissions, which supports our long-term growth rate forecast of 15-20% per annum.”
Jesus Barberia, North American’s vice president and general manager, said its strategy was to enter into new markets with high-quality local partners like Catamount. “We believe the necessary synergies exist for New England Windpower to become an important wind developer in New England,” Barberia said.
Catamount’s strategy in the British Isles is similar: The company is partnering with a European company headed by a global wind developer, with plans for 125 to more than 200 turbines.
Catamount will partner with force9energy Ltd. of Amersham, England, to develop wind projects in England, Scotland and Wales. Catamount will fund and manage the venture, which includes an experienced development team headed by David Butterworth, former head of international development for National Wind Power.
Butterworth will lead the origination and development effort, with a goal of developing at least 300 megawatts of wind power during the next four years.
“This venture provides force9 with the opportunity to focus on market opportunities in the United Kingdom with an aggressive, quality company,” said Butterworth, force9’s managing director. “We are impressed with Catamount’s management team and business strategy and share their vision for growth.”
North American Renewables, with offices in Arlington, Va., is a wholly owned subsidiary of CADER SA, a Group EHN-Iberdrola Joint Venture, focusing on developing a diversified portfolio of renewable energy projects in North America. Its expertise includes wind resource assessment and siting; technical, financial, and economic project feasibility assessment; selection and procurement; and O&M activities related to large-scale wind generation facilities.
Young said Catamount spent the past year developing one of the most experienced independent development teams in the world. Lead by Moore, formerly with American National Power, the company is currently investigating about two dozen possible wind projects in the United States and Europe.
“Catamount has quickly brought in a wealth of talent and intellectual capital,” Young said. “These partnerships add to that depth, and position Catamount for fast, methodical and profitable growth.”