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Putting wind to work on farms

MMA Renewable Ventures is expanding from solar to small-scale wind farms. Its first customer: the PaTu Wind Farm in Oregon.

Financing company MMA Renewable Ventures is branching into wind energy, betting places like family farms are underserved.

The company on Wednesday is expected to announce the launch of its wind business, which will provide financing and project management for installations between 10 megawatts and 50 megawatts.

Home on the plain: Wind power. GE

Its first customer is a planned 10-megawatt project, the PaTu Wind Farm in Oregon, which is expected to go up by 2009. MMA Renewable has a pipeline of deals worth 200 megawatts, said Moira Geraghty, vice president of wind finance at MMA Renewable Ventures.

In general, the deals will be structured so that MMA Renewable Ventures manages the construction of an existing project, procures the equipment, and secures the financing. It will operate the facility and then, after earning money on the project, will hand over majority ownership to the landowner, Geraghty explained.

Until now, the company has focused on solar power installations at corporations, where it installs and operates solar arrays and sells electricity back to customers under a purchase power agreement.

While technology continues to advance, financing of renewable energy projects is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to adoption.

Geraghty said that smaller installations, rather than giant, utility-scale wind farms, often get derailed because of a lack of capital.

"It takes significant capital and resources to procure the turbines in the first place," she said.

The PaTu Wind Farm is expected to be able to generate enough electricity to power 3,000 homes each year, or about 30,000 megawatt hours.