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Indian Point shutdown 'icing on the cake' for Cricket Valley's global investors

Advanced Power AG has closed financing on its 1,100-MW Cricket Valley Energy Center in New York's lower Hudson Valley, a $1.584 billion new-build gas-fired power project positioned as a likely beneficiary of the planned retirement of the Indian Point nuclear power plant complex outside New York City.

The project claims a diverse group of global investors, who together are set to contribute $709 million in equity and $875 million in project-level debt, Advanced Power said in a Jan. 24 statement.

Equity sponsors include affiliates of Advanced Power, JERA Co., TIAA, BlackRock Inc., Development Bank of Japan and NongHyup Financial Group Inc., an offshoot of the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation.

JERA is a joint venture between Chubu Electric Power Co. and Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Lenders to Cricket Valley include affiliates of GE Energy Financial Services, BNP Paribas SA, Credit Agricole, Bank of America Corp., CIT Group Inc., Industrial Bank of Korea, Shinhan Bank America, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, National Australia Bank Ltd., Siemens Financial Services Inc., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and NongHyup, the statement said.

The combined-cycle gas-fired generating facility is expected to begin commercial operations in early 2020, just in time for the slated retirement of Indian Point 2 in April 2020 and Indian Point 3 in April 2021, barring a reliability extension through 2024 and 2025, respectively.

Cricket Valley is in Dover, New York, about 40 miles north of the Indian Point facilities in Buchanan, New York.

For global investors in the Cricket Valley project, Entergy Corp.'s decision to shutter Indian Point was received as an endorsement of the market view conceived in response to the state's Indian Point contingency planning process launched by the New York Public Service Commission in 2012.

"At the beginning of the project, there was very little associated with the Indian Point closure, and we were doing it on our own market view," Cricket Valley Energy Center Project Manager and Vice President at Advanced Power Bob De Meyere said in an interview.

"We just just went on with that market view, and brought in the investors," De Meyere added. "I do not think any of them expected the Indian Point closure, but it was definitely icing on the cake."

Construction on Cricket Valley is set to begin in July, led by Bechtel Corp., after Advanced Power moves ahead with demolition and remediation processes on the planned site in Dover. The plant will purchase natural gas from the Iroquois gas pipeline, and will sell energy, capacity and ancillary services into NYISO's Lower Hudson Valley capacity zone.