Ventus Energy Inc.
Independent Power Producer of wind energy projects
In 2003, after investing some flow-through capital with Guy Painchaud (see www.eolectric.com) to fund project development for wind projects in Quebec, I started to develop my own wind projects in Ontario. My investment thesis intended to capitalize on favourable emerging energy policy. I also believed that wind was “going to become a big business in Canada and that a smaller and nimble developer was going to initially have a competitive advantage”. In 2004, I founded Ventus Energy Inc. (“Ventus”) with my old University of Waterloo friend Jeff Jenner. At the time, Canada had less than 200 MW of installed wind energy capacity. Fortunately, Ventus ably recruited an impressive Board of Directors including two pioneers of Canadian wind energy - Glen Estill and Guy Painchaud. Luckily, the Hon. David Peterson former Premier of Ontario also joined our Board and provided valuable counsel. Ventus quickly expanded eastward into the Canadian Maritimes. Follow-on equity investors included fund manager Dan Rice at Blackrock (World’s largest fund manager with almost $5 trillion in assets under management) AGF and Jean-Louis Brennickmeyer from Goodenergies. In 2006, Ventus developed and constructed the innovative 99 MW West Cape Wind farm located on the west coast of Prince Edward Island which became the first wind farm in Canada to export wind energy into the United States. Part of the energy from this project was sold under a long term power Purchase agreement to the City of Summerside. The remaining production was sold as merchant energy and wheeled-through New Brunswick and sold into the New England Power Pool (“NEPOOL”) through Maine. Renewable energy certificates (“RECs”) associated with this new wind energy production were sold into the Massachusetts REC market. This project was sold via an initial public offering by Ventus in 2006. Ventus also successfully completed project financings for the construction of its 9 MW Norway Wind Park and its 99 MW ($225 million) West Cape Wind Park. Manulife was lead lender for both of these construction projects. Substantial and definitive agreements were negotiated and finalized along the way including power purchase agreements, interconnection agreements, turbine supply agreements for V90 and V80 Vestas turbines, fixed price construction contracts and options to purchase or enter into easements for real estate agreements.
By 2007, Ventus had rapidly grown into Canada’s leading wind developer with a team of twenty two talented renewable energy professionals and a portfolio of twenty five projects under development. Ventus procured exclusive development rights on over fourteen million acres of land in Ontario, Quebec and the Canadian Maritimes. Ventus was also proud to have negotiated six joint ventures with First Nations located in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. As expected, by 2007, the wind industry had finally attracted larger and lower cost of capital participants. The strategic decision was made to sell Ventus to one of these larger players. After running a sale process which concluded in the receipt of five written formal offers to purchase, Ventus was acquired by GDF SUEZ for total consideration of over $200 million which closed in the fall of 2007.
Ventus became a tremendous learning experience for me. Business is a team effort. I am so grateful for all who contributed to Ventus’ success.