Australia’s AMP Capital Plans to Invest in U.S. Wind, Gas Assets

AMP Capital Investors Ltd., the Sydney-based company managing about $130 billion in funds, plans more power investments in the U.S. after putting money into the country’s renewable energy industry for the first time.

The unit of Australian pension provider AMP Ltd. is seeking to make two or three investments this year in U.S. industries including wind energy, gas-fired power projects and pipelines, Digby Beaumont, a senior vice president at AMP Capital, said in a phone interview yesterday from New York.

AMP Capital announced yesterday a $100 million investment in North American wind energy developer Capistrano Wind Partners LLC, a company formed last year by TIAA-CREF, Edison Mission Energy and Cook Inlet Region Inc. AMP plans further wind transactions with the Capistrano partners, Beaumont said.

AMP expects to use that partnership as a “platform in the U.S.,” he said. “Growing this vehicle is a priority, but our pipeline is looking pretty good for other opportunities.”

U.S. gas and power assets, including infrastructure that needs to be built because of a surge in shale production, are areas that may attract AMP’s investment, Beaumont said without discussing specific investment prospects in the country.

India, Ireland

“U.S. infrastructure needs a lot of capital,” he said. “Private capital is going to be extremely important to get some of this stuff done. We see a lot of opportunity, but also a lot of funds and capital chasing those opportunities.”

AMP Capital has made four renewable energy investments of about $248 million, including the Capistrano accord, the company said in an e-mail. One AMP fund last year acquired a stake in Indian clean-energy company Shalivahana Green Energy Ltd. for about $29 million, while another in 2012 acquired a controlling stake in a group of wind farms in Ireland.

Capistrano owns five operating wind farms in Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming with 413 megawatts of generating capacity, according to AMP. The investment is on behalf of a large Australian superannuation fund client, AMP said yesterday. AMP declined to disclose the name of the Australian client.

U.S. developers added a record 13.1 gigawatts of new wind power last year, up 98 percent from 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. U.S. wind beat gas in 2012 to become the largest new source of power generation for the first time.

Long-term power-purchase agreements of 20 years to 25 years and financing available to develop projects are among the factors making its wind investment attractive, Beaumont said.

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