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North Star secures $16.5m US funding for St Kitts wind project

aribbean developer North Star has secured a $16.5m commitment from the US Overseas Project Investment Corporation (Opic) to fund construction of the first phase of the 5.4MW Belle Vue wind farm in St Kitts, Recharge can reveal.

Nevis-based North Star is building St Kitts’ first wind project in partnership with Mas Energy of Florida. It will be about 25%-financed via private equity investments.

Unlike its counterpart the Export-Import Bank of the US, Opic does not specify the use of American-made products as a requirement of its backing.

The body also does not mandate the need for a sovereign loan guarantee – which would be a major burden on cash-strapped Caribbean governments with no interest in acquiring more debt liability.

Opic’s key criteria is that the development company is at least 25%-owned by a US citizen or entity.

North Star’s founder and president Mark Tippett says Opic’s participation is crucial.

“This is essentially the US government lending to St Kitts without the requirement of a sovereign guarantee. For countries like St Kitts, which are under IMF (International Monetary Fund) watch right now, to get project financing from someone like Opic at this point in time is pretty significant,” Tippett says.

The wind farm has a 20-year contract with the recently-privatised St Kitts Electricity Department, and could be expanded to 20MW.

Like other small Caribbean islands, St Kitts is heavily dependent on diesel generators to supply power to its population of 35,000.

North Star – a former tourist resort developer that has moved into wind power – expects to break ground by the end of the year and power production to begin in the first quarter of 2012.



Category/ies:St Kitts and Nevis News.
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