AGL has agreed to become a member of Nexus, the “strategic partner” network of US-based private equity firm Energy Impact Partners, for more than 10 years.
Operating as an investment platform, EIP targets emerging technologies, products, services and business models throughout the electricity supply chain. Some of the firm’s recent investments include AutoGrid Systems, a big data analytics business catering for the energy industry, and Opus One Solutions, a software developer focused on power distribution utilities.
AGL declined to disclose the size of its commitment to EIP, but said the investment was consistent with the company’s broader innovation strategy. The group has directly supported and invested in local and international technology upstars including Sunverge and Solar Analytics, according to Elisabeth Brinton, its executive general manager of new energy.
The company said the investment in EIP offered an access to the latest energy technologies while also allowing it to craft strategic partnerships with peers around the world.
North American energy companies including US utilities Southern Company, National Grid, Xcel Energy, Ameren Corporation, Great Plains Energy, Avista Corporation and Canada’s Fortis are already members of Nexus. AGL is the first utility from Down Under to join the platform.
In other news, AGL today also completed the transfer two solar plants – the 102MW Nyngan and 53MW Broken Hill projects – as seed assets to its Powering Australian Renewables Fund, for A$257 million ($193.7 million; €180.2 million).
AGL said it had made virtually no profit from the sale. Lenders supporting the transaction included Westpac, National Australia Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and BNP Paribas. Brett Redman, AGL’s chief financial officer, said that the fund would continue to raise debt on a project-by-project basis.
AGL’s proposed wind farms in Silverton in New South Wales and Coopers Gap in Queensland will likely be the next two projects offered to the fund, the company said.
The group created the vehicle in February this year in a bid to capitalise on Australia’s efforts to meet the national Renewable Energy Target. The company said in July it had provided A$200 million in equity to the vehicle, with QIC committing A$800 million to PARF on behalf of Future Fund and the QIC Global Infrastructure Fund.
The fund aims to develop 1GW of large-scale renewable energy projects in the country. Australia needs 5GW of new renewables capacity to achieve its target of having at least 20 percent of its electricity generated from renewable sources by 2020, according to EY.