First Wind to head new venture

First Wind Holdings LLC, Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. and Emera Inc. signed an agreement to jointly construct, own and operate wind energy projects in the Northeast U.S.

First Wind has a 370 MW portfolio of wind energy projects in the Northeast U.S. including five operating projects and two projects near operation. The plants included in the new venture are:

* The 42 MW Mars Hill Wind project in Maine,
* The Stetson Wind I & II (57 MW and 26 MW, respectively) in Maine
* The 60 MW Rollins Wind (expected to be completed July 2011) in Maine
* The 40 MW Sheffield Wind project in Vermont (expected to be completed in October 2011)
* The 20 MW Steel Winds I and the 125 MW Cohocyon Wind projects in New York.

These assets will become part of an operating company of which First Wind will own 51 percent. Emera and Algonquin are entering into a separate joint venture called Northeast Wind, which will own 49 percent of the operating company. First Wind will serve as the venture’s managing partner and continue to operate the projects.

Separately, Emera will initially own 75 percent of Northeast Wind and Algonquin will own the remaining 25 percent. Northeast Wind will invest a total of $333 million to acquire the 49 percent ownership of the operating company, including a $150 million loan to the operating company that will be paid within five years or converted to equity in future projects. Emera will finance the deal through existing credit facilities subject to lender approval.

Algonquin's financing plans include an agreement with Emera for Emera to acquire $37 million of subscription receipts in Algonquin at a price of $5.37 per share. This provides Emera with the opportunity to increase its ownership interest in Algonquin up to 25 percent, subject to Algonquin shareholder approval.

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