Conejo Solar will have the capacity to deliver 122 megawatts of clean energy to Chile’s grid and to support nearby mining operations.
LOS ANGELES/SANTIAGO, CHILE (August 12, 2015) - In its latest renewable energy financing in Latin America, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP represented the banks providing approximately $205 million to finance the Conejo Solar photovoltaic power project that Pattern Energy Group LP is developing in the Atacama Desert, located in the Antofagasta region of Chile, 250 miles north of Santiago.
When it begins commercial operation in 2016, Conejo Solar will have the capacity to deliver 122 megawatts of clean energy to Chile's grid and to support nearby mining operations. The financial close and start of construction were announced on August 7.
Milbank was counsel to the senior secured lender group - which included Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Société Générale and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation - in providing a construction and term loan facility and related letters of credit. Milbank also acted as U.S. counsel to Banco Santander-Chile, which provided a separate loan facility to finance value-added tax payments by Conejo Solar.
"Due to its friendly business environment, stable political system and abundance of renewable energy sources, Chile is becoming one of the world's top renewable energy markets," said Milbank project finance partner Allan Marks, who led the deal team. "We're very pleased to have worked with this sophisticated group of lenders and Pattern in structuring and closing the long-term financing for the Conejo Solar project, which should become a major source of solar power in Chile." He noted that, thanks to projects like Conejo, Chile is ahead of schedule to meet its goal of generating at least one-fifth of its energy from non-conventional renewable sources by the year 2025.
Mr. Marks has advised on over a dozen wind and solar energy projects in Chile and Mexico over the last few years, including El Arrayán, Chile's largest wind farm, and several solar PV projects in the Antofagasta region of Chile. In Mexico, Mr. Marks recently represented the private equity owners of phases 1 and 2 of the Tres Mesas wind farm in their acquisition (from Oak Creek Energy) and concurrent dual-currency financing of the project with OPIC and NADB. The 148.5 MW Tres Mesas wind power project, which reached financial close last quarter, is now under construction in Tamaulipas and represents one of the largest sustainable energy projects in Mexico so far.
Advising the Conejo Solar lenders along with Milbank partner Allan Marks were counsel Michael Dayen and associates Tracey Steele, Miguel Duran, and Ryan Hart (project finance), all in Los Angeles, and Brian Lee (alternative investments) in New York.
"Conejo Solar is a great example of how major developers and their affiliated yieldcos are expanding internationally and into multiple renewable resources," Mr. Marks added. "We expect further expansion of the renewable energy sector in Latin America."