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$1.7B wind farm investment

Energy giant Enbridge Inc. is making big inroads into renewables even as changes in government policies are paving the way for the rapid expansion of its traditional oil and gas pipeline business.

The company said Friday it was investing $1.7 billion for 50 per cent of the Hohe See wind energy project off the coast of Germany, which follows last year's $282-million buy of a 50 per cent stake in a group of French offshore wind projects.

"It's clear that we're going to need all sources of supply to meet growing global energy demand, and that includes renewable supplies," said Enbridge CEO Al Monaco in an earnings conference call.

A day earlier, the Federal Trade Commission approved Enbridge's (TSX:ENB) proposed $37-billion takeover of Spectra Energy Corp., which will greatly expand the Calgary-based company's footprint in the United States just as the new administration there brings in more oil-and-gas-friendly policies.

"The political landscape in North America has shifted to, let's call it a more balanced tone for energy and infrastructure and development," said Monaco.

"We've seen strong conviction from the federal and provincial governments in Canada to advance infrastructure, and we see that happening as well in the United States on economic growth and a positive stance on energy."

For the company's new German wind project, it expects to spend $600 million this year and invest the remaining $1.1 billion through 2019, when the project is expected to be in service.

Power generated by the 497-megawatt wind farm will be sold at fixed prices over a 20-year period under a German government incentive program, with the option to expand a further 112 megawatts of capacity.

The company has yet to give the final go-ahead on the 1,428 megawatts of potential French offshore projects, while the 400-megawatt offshore Rampion project in the United Kingdom, which it owns a 25 per cent stake, should come online in 2018.



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