RWE receives funds for two Michigan small hydropower plants

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Renewable World Energies LLC (RWE) has completed a US$2.3 million debt through a new investment arrangement with the Geo Investors Renewable Infrastructure Fund, the Wisconsin-based small hydroelectric power plant owner and operator has announced.

The proceeds will primarily be used to fund upgrades to the 2-MW Cataract and the ongoing operation and maintenance of the 900-kW Au Train plant, located near Gwinn and Munising, Mich., respectively.

Upgrades at Cataract include the installation of a more efficient turbine that will be designed and manufactured by Kiser Hydro LLC, a sister company of RWE.

The new turbine replaces a Francis-type runner with a variable-pitch six-blade Kaplan-style runner while using the existing scroll case, wicket gates and generator. The upgrade is "very cost effective", RWE said, and will allow the plant to increase its energy production by a projected 80%.

"We are pleased to have brought on a quality financing partner like the Geo Investors Fund that understands the energy business and is interested in working with relatively small companies like ours," RWE and Kiser Hydro Chief Financial Officer Tom Berutti said.

Both plants were constructed in the 1920s to provide power for area mining companies before being acquired by RWE's predecessor in 2010.

Power generated by the companies is sold through a long-term power purchase agreement to the Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO), which is a subsidiary of the Integrys Energy Group, Inc.

The Geo Investors Renewable Infrastructure Fund was established in 2010 and focuses on direct investments in small- to mid-sized renewable energy assets in the United States. The fund has previously invested in wind, biogas and other small hydropower plants.

For more small hydropower news, visit here.

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