Canada's Alterra secured full PTC for up to 1.7GW of US wind

Alterra Power Corp., the Vancouver-based independent power producer, says it qualified up to 1.7GW of US wind projects for the full production tax credit (PTC), an ambitious portfolio that includes the 200MW Vestas turbine deal announced last week for the Flat Top project in Texas.

Alterra, a growing player in the North American renewables market, commenced “on-site and off-site project activities” for US wind projects that will total between 1.2GW and 1.7GW, all of them eligible for the full PTC, which began phasing down on 1 January.

The portfolio spans multiple US states, and includes projects owned fully by Alterra and those owned by other developers “with whom Alterra is working towards project acquisition or partnership”, the company says.

"We've made significant progress this [past] year stocking our pipeline with early and late-stage development projects," said Alterra chief executive John Carson. "We intend to continue our project acquisition and greenfield development efforts in 2017."

Due to the planned PTC phase-down, US wind projects that begin construction in 2017 will receive a PTC top-up of $18.40 for each MWh generated, compared to $23.30/MWh for those projects that entered construction in 2016.

Developers that qualified projects for the full PTC have four years to bring them to completion.

Last week Alterra named Vestas the turbine supplier for its Flat Top project, adding to the Danish OEM’s lengthening US win streak.

Alterra also named Minnesota-based Blattner Energy as EPC contractor for Flat Top, which is located in central Texas and due for completion in 2018, and says it is “currently negotiating” a power hedge as the project’s primary revenue source.

Building on its powerful momentum in the US market, Vestas will supply 100 of its V110-2.0MW turbines, while also providing 10 years of service and maintenance. Vestas, which owns a cluster of wind factories in Colorado, secured a late-year bulge of US orders as developers rushed to beat the deadline to qualify for the full production tax credit.

The turbine and EPC contracts represent a new tack for Alterra in Texas. Its first project in the state—the 202MW Shannon wind farm, completed in late 2015—was built by Mortenson Construction using GE 1.7MW turbines. The Shannon wind farm sells power to Facebook for its data centre in Fort Worth, Texas.

Alterra acquired the Flat Top project last summer from Austin, Texas-based Pioneer Green Energy and Lavaca Wind. Flat Top is the company’s third wind farm overall, following Shannon and the 144MW Dokie 1 in British Columbia, that province’s largest wind farm until Pattern commissions its Meikle project.

Alterra manages eight operating power plants totaling 825MW, of which it owns 385MW of net capacity. In addition to its trio of wind assets, it owns several run-of-river hydro plants in Canada and geothermal plants in Iceland.

The company is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and recently paid out its first annual dividend.

Alterra is among the growing crop of Canadian diversified energy companies and IPPs making an impact in foreign renewables markets, a list that includes Enbridge, Brookfield Asset management, Northland Power, and Boralex.