Majority stake in Oakesdale’s First Wind turbine farm sells to J. P. Morgan investors in Oakesdale turbine project
By Garth Meyer Gazette Reporter J.P. Morgan Asset Management and First Wind announced Dec. 11 that institutional investors advised by J.P. Morgan have made a 90 percent majority investment in the Palouse Wind project near Oakesdale. First Wind will continue to operate and manage the site as the company continues to expand its third-party operations group. The sale comes after an approval by the Federal Energy Commission for the deal which first came to light when Whitman County Planner Alan Thomson received a notice Oct. 17 of a potential change in ownership. At the time, First Wind made no comment to the Gazette, pending the Energy Commission approval. According to First Wind spokesman John Lamontaigne, the company sold the stake to invest in other projects. “It gives us capital to develop additional renewable energy projects,” said Lamontaigne. “We’re excited about that and we’re excited to continue our work in Oakesdale. The same staff will be there, the same donations to the community that we’ve supported and the same power arrangement with Avista will stay in place. There will be no difference from the standpoint of the local community.” The Oakesdale project is the latest wind-power acquisition by J.P. Morgan. “We are very excited to add the Palouse wind project to the list of assets we advise and to establish a partnership with First Wind on behalf of our clients,” said Matt LeBlanc, Chief Information Officer at J.P. Morgan Asset Management – Global Real Assets. “These are high quality projects exhibiting solid financial and operating fundamentals that we anticipate will produce stable and growing yields and total returns for our investors over the long term.” The sale is beneficial to First Wind, according to Paul Gaynor, First Wind CEO. “Attracting strong investors such as those advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management reinforces that First Wind is building high-value, financially viable projects,” Gaynor said. “This transaction also provides First Wind capital to continue our efforts to develop and build new clean energy projects.” The Palouse Wind site has 58 turbines. The project achieved commercial operations in December 2012 and the wind power interconnects to the Avista 230kV Benewah-to-Shawnee transmission line. Palouse Wind harnesses enough wind to generate up to 105 megawatts (MW) for Whitman County and other parts of the Northwest, the equivalent to provide power for as many as 30,000 homes in Eastern Washington. Avista buys the power and delivers it to homes and businesses. J.P. Morgan Asset Management-Global Real Assets has more than $82 billion in assets under management. The Global Real Assets team is part of J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s Alternatives Investments business, which collectively manages more than $120 million in client assets across real assets, hedge funds, credit and private equity. First Wind is a renewable energy company focused on the development, financing, construction, ownership and operation of utility-scale energy projects in the United States. Based in Boston, First Wind is operating or building energy projects across the country, with combined capacity of nearly 1,300 megawatts. In October, a representative of First Wind left a voicemail with Thomson as a courtesy, informing him that the operation may be sold to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. One of the conditions of a conditional use permit for a project of this type is that if ownership changes, they need to notify the county planning office. A conditional use permit is unaffected by who owns a property on which it is issued. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. owns interests in power plants and wind farms through its private equity division, J.P. Morgan Capital Partners, and J.P. Morgan Infrastructure Investments Group, its asset management division.
By Sally Ousley Gazette Reporter The third marijuana producer and processor and producer license has been approved by the state. Whitman County commissioners on Monday reviewed the license for DP Farms, 13301 Pine City-Malden Road, St. John. Commissioners did not comment on the license. The license has been approved for marijuana producer tier 2 and marijuana processor, and is valid through Dec. 31, 2015. This license allows the producer a maximum of 5,325 square feet of marijuana for sale at wholesale to marijuana processor licensees and to other marijuana producer licensees. The producer has 15 days from the date the license was issued to have all seeds, clones, nonflowering marijuana plants and plant tissue physically on the licensed premises. Within 24 hours, the producer must record all seeds, clones, nonflowering marijuana plants and plant tissue that enters the facility, during this 15-day time frame, into the traceability system. No flowering marijuana plants may be brought into the facility during this 15-day time frame. After the 15 days expire, the producer may only start plants from seed, plant tissue or create clones from a marijuana plant located physically on the licensed premises, or purchase marijuana seeds, plant tissue, clones or plants from another licensed producer. People under 21 years of age are not permitted on the premises. A sign reading “Persons under 21 years of age not permitted on these premises” must be posted in a conspicuous location at each entry to the premises. Changes in ownership, alterations to the operating and/or floor plan, and business relocation require prior board approval. In accordance with state code, the issuance of a license by the Liquor Control Board shall not be construed as a license for, or an approval of, any violations of local rules or ordinances including, but not limited to: Building and fire codes, zoning ordinances and business licensing requirements. Included in the license notice is information about firearms on the premises. The notice is meant to help clarify federal laws about possessing firearms on licensed premises and while transporting marijuana. Federal law prohibits users of controlled substances from possessing firearms. Marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law. Federal regulations provide that current use of controlled substances may be inferred from evidence of recent use, possession or a pattern of use or possession. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, stated in a letter dated Sept. 11, 2011, that any person in possession of marijuana is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition. In addition, it is illegal under federal law to carry or use a firearm in furtherance of a federal drug trafficking crime, which includes selling marijuana. Federal law prohibits the possession of firearms by any person on a premises where marijuana is present or being transported. People who are prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm may be prosecuted in federal court. A state license is not a defense to a federal prosecution under federal firearms laws or the federal Controlled Substances Act.