Alberta-based Enbridge to continue investing in wind, other renewable energy plans in Quebec, California and Colorado, says its CEO, but doesn't give investment target, spent US$1.5B in clean tech projects in 2010

LOS ANGELES , October 12, 2011 () – Enbridge Inc. plans to continue investing in the renewable energy sector, where it sees a “huge number” of opportunities, said the Calgary, Alberta-based company’s chief on Wednesday, reported Bloomberg News on Oct. 6.

The company, better know for pipelines than clean technology, plans to spend on wind farms and other renewable energy projects in Quebec, California and Colorado, said Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel, but he did not give an investment target.

Last year, Enbridge spent US$1.5 billion on its green power investments. It expects to be “a big renewables company” in 50-60 years, said Daniel in an interview with Bloomberg.

Although the renewables part of Enbridge’s business is not as profitable as its crude oil pipeline and some of its other businesses, “it does clear the cost of capital,” said Daniel.

The company’s installed renewable energy capacity has expanded to 850 megawatts (MW) as of the end of March, up from 41 MW at year-end 2005, and includes wind farms, a solar panel manufacturing plant, as well as biomass and geothermal operations.

Enbridge is cautious about its renewable investments, as it doesn’t decide to move forward until it has long-term contracts, said Juan Plessis, an analyst with Canacord Genuity in Vancouver, Bloomberg reported.

The scaling back in political support for North American green energy investments, such as wind and solar, gives an advantage to large companies like Enbridge in case capital dries up, said Ethan Zindler, head of North American research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The major companies that invest in renewable energy might even buy up the smaller companies, he said in an interview, reported Bloomberg.

In September, Enbridge announced that its affiliate Enbridge Income Fund Holdings acquired the parent company’s two wind farms and a solar station in Ontario for $1.23 billion.

However, Enbridge retains control over the operations, which are expected to generate earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of $111 million annually over 10 years, the company said at the time.

At the end of this year, U.S. tax-based incentives for green energy are set to expire. As of Sept. 1, the U.S. Treasury grants program awarded $8.5 billion in funding to 18,798 projects, reported Bloomberg.

The primary source of this article is Bloomberg News, New York, New York, on Oct. 6, 2011.

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