What a difference three years can make. In 2010, First Wind tried to do an initial public offering, but never made it out of the gate. This week, in a sign of wind power’s now-entrenched place on the U.S. energy landscape, Pattern Energy Group had a successful IPO, raising $352 million.
Of course, there was more that was different about this IPO than the date it took place; as Reuters pointed out, “Pattern has solid cash flow and has been largely profitable, factors that may have helped the company get a better pricing and drive the stock up on debut.”
Still, the success of the Pattern IPO does say something about the state of the larger industry.
Utilities like wind because it’s a reliable way to meet renewable portfolio standards, and it is becoming more and more economically attractive, with its levelized cost of energy falling by half in the past four years. That led the financial firm Lazard to write recently that “while many had anticipated significant declines in the cost of utility-scale solar PV, few anticipated these sorts of cost declines for wind technology.”
To be sure, federal support has been very helpful in keeping the price of wind within shouting distance of very cheap natural gas. Yet earlier this year, the Berkeley Lab reported that “even within today’s low gas price environment…wind power can still provide a cost-effective long-term hedge against many of the higher-priced future natural gas scenarios being contemplated.”
Pattern isn’t just dependent on the U.S. market -- it owns interests in four wind farms in the United States and one in Canada, has a partial interest in another in the U.S., and has two under construction in Ontario and Chile. Those wind farms add up to 1,041 megawatts of rated capacity. The projects generally have long-term power-purchase agreements, giving Pattern a very good expectation of continued, predictable cash flow.
The company (PEGI) priced its offering at $22, then bounced up to $23.98, before closing its first day of trading Friday at $23.27, up about 6 percent.