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Fitch Rates $52.5MM Berkshire Wind Power Coop Corp, Project Revs, Series 2009 'A'; Outlook Stable.

NEW YORK New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
 -- Fitch Ratings Fitch Ratings

An international rating agency for financial institutions, insurance companies, and corporate, sovereign, and municipal debt. Fitch Ratings has headquarters in New York and London and is wholly owned by FIMALAC of Paris.
 assigns an 'A' rating to $52.5 million Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corporation (the Coop), project revenue bonds, series 2009, with a Stable Outlook.

Proceeds of the bonds will be used to fund the project costs associated with the Coop's purchase of the Berkshire Wind Power Project. The project consists of 10 wind turbine generators, each with a capacity of 1.5 megawatts (MW), in addition to the acquisition of the land where the turbines will be installed, located on the ridgeline ridge·line  
n.
See ridge.

Noun 1. ridgeline - a long narrow range of hills
ridge

arete - a sharp narrow ridge found in rugged mountains
 of Brodie Mountain Brodie Mountain was a ski resort in New Ashford, Massachusetts, in the Berkshires in the far northwestern part of the state. It opened in 1964 and thrived for a time by using then-cutting-edge innovations like top-to-bottom snowmaking and lighted night skiing.  in Hancock, MA. In total, the project is expected to have capacity of 15 MW, and it is estimated to produce 52,560 megawatt hours (MWh), assuming a 40% capacity factor. The installation is expected to occur in October and November, and the project is slated to attain commercial operating status in December 2009. The time frame for the installation has been accelerated, due to the availability of the turbines.

The 'A' rating is based on the secured interest in the project; the two take-or-pay contracts, the first between Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC) and the Coop, and the second between MMWEC and the 14 project participants; and the growing demand for renewable energy Renewable energy utilizes natural resources such as sunlight, wind, tides and geothermal heat, which are naturally replenished. Renewable energy technologies range from solar power, wind power, and hydroelectricity to biomass and biofuels for transportation.  in the region as the Commonwealth is increasing its Renewable Portfolio Standard This article or section may deal primarily with the U.S. and may not present a worldwide view.  (RPS rps
abbr.
revolutions per second
) standard. The rating also reflects the 14 members' relatively stable financial positions and favorable service areas, with relatively diversified customer bases.

Under the terms of the Power Sales Contract Sales Contract

Contract between a seller and buyer for the sale of goods, services, or both.
 (PSC (Public Service Commission) Same as PUC. ) entered into between the Coop and MMWEC, MMWEC will purchase 100% of the capacity and energy output of the project. MMWEC's payment under the PSC is secured by the 14 participants that have entered into the Berkshire Wind Power Purchase Agreements (BWPPA). Under the BWPPA take-or-pay obligations, each of the participants is obligated ob·li·gate  
tr.v. ob·li·gat·ed, ob·li·gat·ing, ob·li·gates
1. To bind, compel, or constrain by a social, legal, or moral tie. See Synonyms at force.

2. To cause to be grateful or indebted; oblige.
 to pay for their allocated share of the project. Additionally, there is a step-up provision, whereby members are required to pay up to 125% of their committed payment to compensate for the loss of revenues should another member(s) be unable to pay their share. The step-up provision is sufficient to cover several stress scenarios and provides support for the rating.

Massachusetts' current RPS is 4% for 2009, increasing 1% annually through 2020 - to reach a minimum requirement of 15%. After 2020, the minimum standard will continue to increase annually by 1%, unless modified by law.

The 14 participants in this project are participants in MMWEC's other generation projects, and account for approximately 32.1% of MMWEC's overall debt load. Bills sent by MMWEC to participants are combined to include all projects in which the member participates; therefore any payment shortfall would be assigned on a pro-rata basis to all the projects in which the entity participates. (See Fitch's MMWEC report dated February 22, 2008, available on the Fitch web site at www.fitchratings.com.)

The Coop was formed to purchase the Berkshire Wind Project and is composed of 14 municipal light departments and MMWEC. These 14 members include Ashburnham Municipal Light Plant, Boylston Municipal Light Department, Groton Electric Light Department, Holden Municipal Light Department, Hull Municipal Light Plant, Ipswich Municipal Light Department, Marblehead Municipal Light Department, Paxton Municipal Light Department, Peabody Municipal Light Plant, Shrewsbury Electric & Cable Operations, Sterling Municipal Light Department, Templeton Municipal Light and Water Plant, Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department, and West Boyleston Municipal Light Plant.

MMWEC is a joint action agency providing wholesale power supply from eight separately secured projects to 28 municipal electric utilities. These 28 participants provide retail service to 35 towns and cities in the Commonwealth, serving an estimated population of 609,000 and an estimated 275,000 customers. Historically, energy was growing at a rate of 1.4%, with a projected growth rate of 1% expected over the next few years. In 2008, MMWEC projects provided approximately 50% of the energy requirements of the project participants.

Fitch's rating definitions and the terms of use Terms of Use are rules set up by the owner of an intellectual property or service to govern how they may be legally used.

In many cases, terms of service are used as a contractual agreement between a company and users of a service they provide.
 of such ratings are available on the agency's public site, www.fitchratings.com. Published ratings, criteria and methodologies are available from this site, at all times. Fitch's code of conduct, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, affiliate firewall, compliance and other relevant policies and procedures Policies and Procedures are a set of documents that describe an organization's policies for operation and the procedures necessary to fulfill the policies. They are often initiated because of some external requirement, such as environmental compliance or other governmental  are also available from the 'Code of Conduct' section of this site.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jul 24, 2009
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