San Francisco-based developer NaturEner USA LLC says it has secured a $320 million construction loan with Morgan Stanley that will enable construction of the 189 MW Rim Rock wind power project.
The wind farm will be located in Montana's Glacier and Toole counties and will consist of 126 Acciona AW-77 1.5 MW wind turbines.
NaturEner has given full notice to proceed to its contractors and expects Rim Rock to achieve commercial operation by the end of this year.
Once the project reaches commercial operation, San Diego Gas & Electric Co. is expected to make a tax-equity capital contribution in the project of approximately $285 million, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions. The tax-equity investment has been approved by both the California Public Utilities Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Morgan Stanley is also the physical off-taker pursuant to a long-term, fixed-price power purchase agreement. Power from Rim Rock is expected to be delivered within the Western Interconnection, encompassing several Western states and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.
The project will have access to transmission via the Montana Alberta Tie Line (MATL) using the 300 MW of transmission rights awarded to NaturEner during FERC-compliant open season processes conducted in 2005 and 2006.
MATL received financing from the Western Area Power Authority (WAPA) under WAPA's Transmission Infrastructure Program. MATL was acquired in October 2011 by Calgary-based Enbridge Inc., which announced in November 2011 that it expects MATL to be placed in service in mid-2012.