Italy's Edison, Enel, SEL form hydropower joint ventures

Societa Elettrica Altoatesina (SEL), the local utility of Italy's Bolzano Province, has made agreements with two major Italian utilities, Edison SpA and Enel Produzione, to operate existing hydroelectric projects in Bolzano totaling more than 1,000 MW.

In separate agreements SEL is to own: 60 percent of Hydros Srl, while Edison owns 40 percent; and 60 per cent of Newco, while Enel owns 40 percent.

Hydros Srl

After receiving clearance from relevant authorities, Edison announced it transferred to SEL the 60 percent ownership in Hydros Srl for 130 million euros (US$167.4 million) following an agreement between the utilities announced in April. (HNN 4/14/08)

The 295 million euro (US$380 million) joint venture will group seven Edison hydropower plants in the province, Lasa, Brunico, Marlengo, Prati di Vizze, Ponte Gardena, Curon, and Premesa, totaling 245 MW with an average annual generation of 1,000 gigawatt-hours. SEL is transferring its 30 percent interest in Bolzano-based hydro assets including 30 percent of Goege Energia and Centrale Elettrica Winnebach Societa Consortile Arl, owners of concessions to operate hydro projects under construction on the Malga Ghega and Vena rivers. SEL holdings include 87-MW Castelbello and 105-MW Glorenza on the Adige River.

As part of the deal, Edison will buy the output of four plants and a proportional share of another three at a fixed price, they said.

�With SEL's purchase of a majority interest in seven Edison hydroelectric power plants, energy policy in the province of Bolzano has taken a new and highly significant direction: local energy resources are being returned to the control of the local community,� SEL Chairman Klaus Stockner said. �The achievement of this objective, which has been pursued for decades, was also made possible by the support of a partner of national standing.�

Edison is controlled by Italian regional utility A2A and Electricite de France. SEL has an indirect stake in Edison.

Newco

In a separate announcement, Enel Produzione and SEL said they signed a preliminary agreement to form a 360 million euro (US$463.4 million) joint venture, provisionally called Newco.

Assuming regulatory approvals, Enel would transfer to Newco by 2011, its businesses operating concessions for 12 hydroelectric projects in the province totaling 616 MW and concessions for another eight projects totaling 17 MW. SEL would pay Enel the equivalent of 60 percent of the value of the assets for 60 percent ownership in Newco.

The agreement also calls for Enel to sell its power distribution network in the province to SEL for 79 million euros (US$101.6 million).

The agreement is contingent on obtaining clearance from the antitrust authority and on receiving authorization from the province and other local entities for the transfer of relevant hydropower concessions to Newco upon their renewals.

In 2007, neighboring local utility Dolomiti Energia SpA signed similar agreements with Edison and Enel to jointly develop hydropower projects in Trento Province and to operate a portfolio of existing hydroelectric projects in Trento totaling nearly 1,600 MW. (HNN 11/16/07)

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