CalPERS uses separate account for wind acquisition

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System has purchased an 80 percent interest in two wind farms in the US Midwest through its separate account with power specialist Harbert Management Corporation.

CalPERS invested an undisclosed amount of equity in Rocky Caney Holdings, which owns two wind farms in Kansas and Oklahoma. The Caney River project generates 200MW and its Rock Ridge counterpart has 149MW of capacity. Enel Green Power North America developed and operates the wind projects.

The pension system invested using its Gulf Pacific Power account with Harbert, an Alabama-based asset manager. CalPERS has committed $808 million to the account, which is returning a net 18.29 percent and 5.9 percent over one and three years respectively as of 30 June.

GPP targets North American power assets, especially renewables. The Rocky Caney acquisition is the second renewables investment for GPP and follows CalPERS’ purchase of a 550MW solar project in California. The account has also acquired stakes in a power portfolio in Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania generating a combined 1.3GW and a 575MW gas-fired power plant in New York.

In November, Paul Mouchakkaa, head of CalPERS’ $36.29 billion real assets portfolio, said at an investment committee meeting that separate account partnerships will be the strategy that guides infrastructure investments going forward.

“What we are looking to implement is really a strategy that we have had a lot of success with in real estate,” Mouchakkaa explained, “which is to partner with an investment manager that may cover a region or a sector as their primary area of expertise and create a separate account and allocate capital on an annual basis.”