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Chapman Tripp is pleased to have assisted Westpac New Zealand (Westpac) to finance New Zealand’s largest solar project to date – five solar farms, being developed by Lodestone Energy, and constructed in Dargaville, Kaitaia, Waiotahe Valley, Edgecumbe and Whitianga.
The multi-disciplinary Chapman Tripp team comprised Mark Reese, Jana Hitchcock and Caitlin McLintock (finance); Hamish Bolland, Meika McHardy and Kishan Gunatunga (project contracts).
Westpac was sole arranger and lender for the $150m debt funded transaction. The project, which will increase New Zealand’s solar production by about eight times, has the potential to provide significant public good –providing employment in the regions and positively impacting the country’s emissions reduction profile.
“This is satisfying work to engage in. It involves a complicated and innovative financing structure which contemplates staged construction and operational phases for the five sites, all funded under the same facility” said Mark Reese, Chapman Tripp Partner advising Westpac on the financing aspects of the project.
Hamish Bolland, a partner in the firm’s construction and major projects team noted that the project contracts, and in particular, the construction contract, have needed to respond to current market challenges.
“The structure has evolved since we first engaged with Lodestone Energy and now disaggregates a single engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract – with Lodestone Energy electing to engage plant suppliers directly. Key long lead items such as panels and inverters will be free-issued to Infratec for installation”, Bolland says.
Head of Project Finance at Westpac Institutional Bank, Andrew Kittle says the initiative aligns with the bank’s commitment towards sustainability and green financing.
“We are excited to support Lodestone Energy’s ground-breaking vision for large scale solar that will help diversify the range of renewable electricity sources in New Zealand.”
Tom Fail (of Tom Fail Limited) advised Lodestone Energy on project financing aspects. Simpson Grierson is also assisting Lodestone Energy and Russell McVeagh is acting for Infratec.