Full Title: Community Wind: Once Again Pushing the Envelope of Project Finance
Author(s): M. Bolinger
Publisher(s): USDOE Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Publication Date: January 1, 2011
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The “community wind” sector in the United States – defined in this report as consisting of relatively small utility-scale wind power projects that sell power on the wholesale market and that are developed and owned primarily by local investors – has historically served as a “test bed” or “proving grounds” not only for up-and-coming wind turbine manufacturers trying to break into the broader U.S. wind market, but also for wind project financing structures. For example, a variation of one of the most common financing arrangements in the U.S. wind market today – the special allocation partnership flip structure (as described in Section 2.1 and Figure 1 of the full report) – was first developed by community wind projects in Minnesota more than a decade ago before being adopted by the broader wind market.
More recently, a handful of community wind projects built over the past year have been financed via new and creative structures that push the envelope of wind project finance in the U.S. – in many cases, moving beyond the now-standard partnership flip structures involving strategic tax equity investors.