Alliant Energy International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Alliant Energy Resources, Inc. � the diversified business division of Alliant Energy �announced Friday the start-up of a new thermal power plant in southeastern Brazil.
The plant is located in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais and is an estimated $76 million joint venture with Companhia Forca e Luz Cataguazes-Leopoldina (Cataguazes).
The newly constructed Juiz de Fora power plant is part of the Alliant Energy and Cataguazes strategy to build additional generation in Brazil and is the partnership’s first thermal project. “We remain focused and on track in our efforts to prudently increase our investments in Brazil,” says John Peterson, president of Alliant Energy International. “We’re partnering with Cataguazes to help alleviate the energy crisis in Brazil and at the same time deliver on our promise to ‘invest, connect and grow’ our business.”
The Juiz de Fora power plant is designed to use combined-cycle (gas and steam) technology and clean-burning natural gas to create electricity. This technology uses less fuel than traditional power plants and results in lower costs, reduced air emissions and greater energy efficiency. The new plant will also significantly contribute to meeting the growing power demand in Brazil and help overcome the country’s present electricity shortfall.
Currently, the plant consists of two natural gas-fired, 40-megawatt thermal generation units. The first unit was placed into service Sunday, Nov. 25; the second went online Thursday, Dec. 6. The units are operating in simple-cycle mode, but will be converted to a combined-cycle facility in early 2003. Operating as a combined-cycle facility, the Juiz de Fora plant will produce an electrical power output of 103 megawatt. Power generated at the plant is being supplied to Cataguazes and CENF, two electric distribution companies, under a long-term purchased power agreement with an option to sell a portion of it to the wholesale electricity market for the first three years. General Electric supplied the turbines for the plant.
Alliant Energy International and Cataguazes each hold a 50 percent interest in Juiz de Fora. The majority of the project is being financed through non-recourse debt. Eighty percent of the project cost is initially being financed by BNDES, the Brazilian development bank, with long-term debt takeout anticipated by U.S. Ex-im. The Juiz de Fora power plant brings Alliant Energy International’s total investment in Brazil to more than $450 million.
Cataguazes is a group of companies headquartered in Cataguases, Brazil. Alliant Energy International and Cataguazes’ partnership was formed in January 2000 when Alliant Energy International acquired 49.1 percent ownership of the company. Through the transaction, Alliant Energy also gained holdings in three other Brazilian utility companies � CENF, Energipe and CELB.
Weather, political and economic issues have collectively challenged Brazil’s energy industry during the past year, specifically drought and limited investment in the country’s mainly hydroelectric power network. Today, the Brazilian government offers incentives such as special financing and tariffs to encourage construction of new thermal plants to meet energy demand with low environmental impact.
Construction of the Juiz de Fora power plant began in May 2000. “The time line for this project and others like it in Brazil have been accelerated,” explained Felicia Bellows, Alliant Energy International’s managing director for Latin America. “We needed to move swiftly to take advantage of situational opportunities and government incentives in Brazil, while still keeping a close eye on the country’s rapidly changing energy environment.”
Alliant Energy International holds a significant stake in five Brazilian utilities, serving more than 1.7 million electric customers in the states of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Sergipe and Paraiba. In addition to the new Juiz de Fora thermal plant, the company, with its partner Cataguazes, has plans to invest in a 90-megawatt cogeneration project. Through its investment in Cataguazes, Alliant Energy International also has 15 small hydroelectric facilities operating and 10 others in various stages of development.
Admittedly, Peterson said the past year has been wrought with challenges for stakeholders in the Brazilian energy market. “We attribute our sustained success in the market to our strong partnership philosophy, a diversified approach to meeting the growing energy demand in Brazil, a selective investment process and strategic long-range plan to add to our earnings potential.” said Peterson.
Alliant Energy, headquartered in Madison, Wis., is a growing family of energy-service companies with domestic and international operations. Alliant Energy, through its subsidiaries and partners, provides electric, natural gas, water and steam services to more than three million customers worldwide. Alliant Energy Resources, Inc., home of the company’s non-utility businesses, has operations and investments throughout the United States as well as in Australia, Brazil, China, Mexico and New Zealand.