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Geronimo takes the leap

New owner for Green River wind farm

Published: Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 7:00 a.m. CDT

WALNUT — The Green River wind farm project, located in Bureau, Whiteside and Lee counties, has a new owner.

In a press release, Minnesota-based Geronimo Energy and Durbin, Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power announced Geronimo’s acquisition of Mainstream’s Green River wind farm.

In similar action in March 2013, Geronimo Energy bought the Walnut Ridge wind farm, adjacent to Green River, and is in the advanced stages of developing that project. Together, the Walnut Ridge and Green River wind farms represent up to 435 megawatts of wind energy.

In his statement, Geronimo Energy President Blake Nixon said this recent acquisition is a good move for all involved.

“This acquisition benefits all interested parties,” Nixon said. “It gives Geronimo flexibility and scalability when speaking with power purchasers, and it means the local communities have one point of contact, which keeps communication very simple. We feel that having two projects side by side in such a desirable market as Illinois strengthens the prospects for both developments.”

Matt Boss, vice president for North American Development and Operations, a division of Mainstream Renewable Energy, also commented on the announcement.

“Geronimo Energy’s agricultural roots, combined with their regional development experience and financial backing, makes them an ideal partner in moving Green River to construction,” Boss said. “We look forward to continuing to support Geronimo Energy in delivering the project into operation.”

Immediately following the acquisition, Geronimo successfully qualified Green River under the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which expired Dec. 31, 2013. Although the PTC was allowed to expire at the end of 2013, the safe-harbored Green River will still be eligible to receive tax credits under the PTC for upwards of 20 years. Walnut Ridge was also successfully qualified as PTC-eligible.

Geronimo Energy Vice President Tim Polz said the construction of the Green River and Walnut Ridge projects is dependent on the execution of power purchase agreements, which are still being determined. The construction on either or both wind farms could begin in late 2014 or in 2015. Once the construction work begins, the project would be completed within the year, he said.

The acquisition of Green River is beneficial to both Geronimo and the community in the development of the wind farm projects, Polz said. The acquisition will allow the company to take advantage of a synergy between both projects. Through the purchases of Green River and Walnut Ridge, the community and landowners will have a single point of contact for both projects. In time, Geronimo Energy will develop a community fund, once construction is in place, which will benefit local charities, he added.

Keith Bolin, Mainstream Renewable Power project manager for the Green River project, said he and his wife, Barb, who serves as co-project manager, have enjoyed their time with Mainstream tremendously. They see this change as an exciting time for the landowners, taxing bodies and communities.

Letters have been sent to landowners notifying them of the sale, Bolin said. This acquisition moves Green River closer to construction and getting revenue to more than 80 landowners and 20 different taxing bodes and their communities, he added.

“If there is one message I would want to get out there is that we are doing everything we can to make this handoff as seamless as possible. We are committed to making sure nothing falls between the cracks. We are proud to be partnering with Geronimo Energy,” Bolin said. “With Geronimo’s agriculture background, they will be a good business partner for our landowners.”

Currently, the Green River wind farm has 60 building permits in Lee and Whiteside counties, with additional land still needing permits in Bureau County. The Walnut Ridge has permits for 100-140 turbines, depending on the turbine capacity.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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