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Atlantic Wind Plans $150 Million of Solar Plants in Ecuador

Atlantic Wind & Solar Inc., the Tucson, Arizona-based renewable-energy developer, won permission to sell electricity from two solar power plants in Ecuador at $400.30 a megawatt-hour, four times the rate of hydropower.

The plants, planned for the northern towns of Lagarto and Tonchigue, will sell power to the Ecuadorean government, Gilles Trahan, chairman and chief executive officer of Atlantic Wind, said in a phone interview today. They will have total generation capacity of 58.4 megawatts and cost $150 million.

Ecuador, the smallest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is seeking to attract global developers of renewable energy to diversify its energy supply by offering higher rates for their electricity, Trahan said. About 54 percent of Ecuador’s power came from hydroelectric dams and 38 percent from oil in 2009, according to the International Energy Agency.

“This is a plum deal” for Atlantic Wind, Jenny Chase, a London-based analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said today in a telephone interview. “They should be awfully pleased.”

Atlantic Wind rose 21 percent to 40 cents at 11:17 a.m. in New York. Trahan said hydropower normally sells for about $100 a megawatt-hour.

Ecuador is seeking to get 6 percent of its power, or about 300 megawatts, from renewable sources, Chase said. Other solar developers that have agreed to sell power in Ecuador include Spain’s Isofoton SA and a group of Canadian companies, she said.

Germany offers solar developers 118 euros ($158.57) a megawatt hour for large projects under its feed-in-tariff program, she said.

The company expects to complete the two plants in the first quarter of next year using short-term loans. It will then sell them, Trahan said.

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