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AES Solar completes $752mn debt financing and kicks off construction on 266MW utility-scale solar project in US

The company's global solar PV portfolio now totals more than 500MW in operation or construction in seven countries.

AES Solar, a joint venture of The AES Corporation and Riverstone Holdings LLC, has completed three financings totaling $752mn. They cover the project financing of a 266MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in the United States, a project financing of a 22.4 MW portfolio of three solar PV power plants in France and a corporate revolving credit facility for AES Solar.

The firm completed financing for and began construction of the 266MW utility-scale Mount Signal Solar PV project (also known as Imperial Valley Solar 1, or IVS1), in Imperial County, California, last week. The project is expected to be fully operational in early 2014, and it will sell its output to San Diego Gas & Electric Company under a long-term power purchase agreement.

Mount Signal Solar was co-developed with 8minutenergy Renewables, LLC. It is the first of several fully-permitted projects in Imperial County the two companies are working on together.

The financing was structured in two tranches:

  • a $416mn long-term institutional tranche led by Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC and Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. as Joint Lead Placement Agents and Rabo Securities USA, Inc. and DNB Markets Inc. as Co-Placement Agents, and

  • a $220 million cash grant loan provided by Morgan Stanley Senior Funding and Citibank, N.A. Rabobank International and DNB Bank ASA also provided related letters of credit as part of the project financing.

"We are pleased to have begun construction of this important solar project. It is the first of several that we look forward to developing in the Imperial Valley," said Bob Hemphill, CEO of AES Solar. "This project doubles the size of our company’s portfolio and will provide electricity to over 65,000 homes in California."

Meantime, last month, AES Solar closed a €70mn ($90mn), multi-borrower, non-recourse financing of a 22.4MW portfolio in France. HSH Nordbank was the Lead Arranger for the 18-year facility.

The portfolio consists of a 12MW solar PV parking-lot project located near Toulouse, an 8.7MW solar PV parking-lot project located near Lyon and a 1.7MW ground-mount solar PV project also near Toulouse. All three solar PV power plants achieved commercial operation in the first half of 2012. The credit facility was used to refinance equity invested during construction.

The third transaction, which also closed in October 2012, is AES Solar’s first corporate facility consisting of a €20mn ($26mn) medium-term revolver, which will be used to provide it with working capital and additional financial flexibility. The Lead Arranger of the facility is Goldman Sachs Bank USA.

“The combination of these several financings demonstrates the breadth of AES Solar’s business activities across markets, solar PV plant configurations and sizes,” said Becky Cranna, CFO of AES Solar.

AES Solar is one of the world’s largest owners and operators of utility-scale, solar PV power plants. The additional four projects in the United States and France will increase its portfolio to over 500MW in operation or construction in the US, Italy, Spain, France, Bulgaria, India and Greece.

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