John Hancock buys into Duke’s wind, solar and batteries

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We’ve reported many times before on the sources of “patient” capital that are increasingly investing in renewable energy projects, and that demand exceeds the available capacity.

On the same day that an infrastructure fund snatched up Clean Energy Collective, Duke Energy announced that it has reached a deal to sell a minority stake in a portfolio of dozens of wind, solar and battery projects to life insurance company John Hancock and its infrastructure fund.

We aren’t entirely clear how much solar is in there; the press release mentions 37 wind, solar and battery plants where John Hancock is buying a 49% share, and 11 solar plants where the company is gaining a 33% share. It also mentions that the total which will be sold equates to 1.2 GW of capacity, and Duke has declined to offer further information at this time.

Additionally, Duke isn’t saying where the plants are located, although it appears that at least one and possibly more of them are in Texas as the sale requires approval by Texas regulators.

The sale is also still subject to federal regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in the second half of this year. Duke will retain not only a majority stake in these projects, but also says that it is keeping the majority of the remaining tax benefits.

 

Development spree

Duke will be getting $415 million from this transaction, which could allow it to develop more renewable energy projects, although we aren’t clear exactly what the company’s plans are for the money.

A Duke spokesperson told pv magazine that it will use these proceeds to fund future growth capital plans and reduce the need for future debt. The company also offered the rather vague statement that “our long-term goals for this business have not changed and we’re committed to growing our renewable energy portfolio”.

The sale comes as Duke is on something of a development and buying spree. The company announced earlier this month that it will buy eight solar projects in the Carolinas and build six more, totaling 602 MW, and since that time it also acquired the 150 MW Rosamond solar project in California.

Much of this could be an attempt to get steel into the ground before the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) drops down. In order to access the full 30% ITC solar and energy storage projects must begin construction by the end of this year.