PROJECT | Cesar Tordesillas, Australia

Ratch-Australia to acquire, build power plants and wind farms

Ratch-Australia will spend US$1.1 billion in the next three years buying power plants and building wind farms.


It is considering acquisitions of coal- and gas-fired power stations and renewable energy projects as uncertainty about the government’s price on carbon emissions and lower wholesale electricity prices pushes asset values down, said the Sydney-based company's CEO, Steve Loxton.

The company also may bid on New South Wales-owned power generators when the state government puts the stations up for sale, he said.

"I'd rather be buying now than when times are particularly strong," Loxton said. "If there are large generation assets for sale, we'd definitely take a look. There don’t appear to be many parties wanting to play in that space."

It is also seeking New South Wales state approval for the Collector wind farm and expects to complete financing for the venture in the second half of next year, he said.

The Collector wind farm is estimated to cost A$350 million and start in late 2015, said Loxton, whose company owns three wind farms in Australia. If all of Ratch-Australia’s proposed wind projects were built, the investment would climb to more than A$3 billion in the next 10 years, he said.

"As the industry ramps up to the meet the target, we see the market improving," Loxton said. "What it's meant is that developers of wind farms have to more rigorously review their projects and make sure only the best ones get through."

Ratch-Australia is still in talks with the Australian government to close the Collinsville coal-fired power station in Queensland, he said. The company is studying options to convert Collinsville to a gas-fired station, a hybrid solar thermal plant or a solar photovoltaic plant, while evaluating whether to continue burning coal at the site, Loxton said.

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