MetLife, GE Team Up To Provide $247 Million To Kansas Wind Farm

Source: by MSTURDEVAN, Hartford Courant • Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2012

MetLife and an arm of General Electric that finances energy projects have teamed up for the second time this year as investors in a major wind farm in the Great Plains.

This time, GE Energy Financial Services and MetLife Inc. joined Union Bank to invest $247 million in a wind farm near Wichita, Kan. The Post Rock wind farm has been up and running since Nov. 14, developed by Wind Capital Group. The 22,900-acre wind-energy farm is about 80 miles outside Wichita, in Ellsworth and Lincoln counties.

This was an equity transaction, meaning the investors bought a stake in the wind farm as opposed to financing debt. The investors would not provide additional details about the financing

The 201-megawatt Post Rock facility has 134 wind turbines churning enough electricity to power more than 70,000 homes. The electricity is sold to WestarÖ Energy, the largest electric utility in Kansas. The wind turbines are made by General Electric, and each is a 1.5 megawatt windmill with blades that swing around in a 271-foot-diameter circle. General Electric also provides operation and maintenance services for the Post Rock facility.

Steven J. Goulart, chief investment officer of MetLife, said in a prepared statement, “We are proud to support endeavors like Post Rock, which align with MetLife’s overall high-quality investment approach and build upon the more than $2.5 billion we’ve already invested in renewable energy projects.”

The Kansas wind farm is similar in energy production to one in central Oklahoma where MetLife, GE Energy Financial Services and other investors announced a combined $220 million in investment in June.

The 235-Megawatt Oklahoma facility, called Chisholm View Wind project, involves 140 wind turbines across 45,000 acres.

A federal tax credit for companies that invest in wind energy has helped drive record level of wind-turbine installations this year in the U.S., according to the trade group American Wind Energy Association

The U.S. wind industry in August surpassed a 50,000-megawatt mark for total capacity of all wind farms installed. That is enough to power 13 million homes. As of Oct. 18, the industry had installed 4,728 megawatts of wind-farm electrical production with an additional 8,430 Megawatts in ongoing construction, the trade group said.

GE Energy Financial Services has about $9 billion in renewable-energy investment commitments globally, most of which is wind, out of a $20 billion overall energy investment portfolio, said GE Energy Financial Services spokesman Andy Katell.

MetLife has major operations in Bloomfield. GE Energy Financial Services, headquartered in Stamford, is part of General Electric Capital, which is headquartered in Norwalk and is part of the General Electric Co. of Fairfield.