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Herbert Smith Freehills has advised Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited and Westpac Banking Corporation on the project financing of the Finley Solar Farm, to be located west of Finley, southern New South Wales. The project achieved financial close on 5 November 2018.

The Finley Solar Farm, developed by ESCO Pacific Pty Ltd (ESCO Pacific), is a solar photovoltaic plant which has an expected installed capacity of 133 MWac of renewable energy, with approximately 500,000 solar panels producing enough electricity to power the equivalent of 59,000 homes.

ESCO Pacific developed the project which was sold to John Laing, the sale completing simultaneously with debt financial close. ESCO Pacific will continue its involvement on the project in the long term through the provision of construction management and asset management services. The project has signed a 7-year corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) with BlueScope Steel for approximately two thirds of the electricity and green benefits generated by the solar farm. A joint venture between Signal Energy Australia Pty Ltd and Canadian Solar Construction (Australia) Pty Limited has been appointed as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor, and will also provide the initial operations and maintenance services to the project.

The Herbert Smith Freehills team was led by partners Elizabeth Charlesworth and Alison Dodd who were supported by senior associates Emma Zarb and David Ong, solicitors Erin MacMullin, Arnica Mullins, Hiroko Ito and graduates Nicholas Gerovasilis and Phoebe Winch.

Ms Charlesworth said, “It is great to see Finley solar farm, a large NSW solar project backed by a corporate PPA, reach financial close and move fully into the construction phase. Congratulations to the ESCO Pacific and John Laing teams for reaching this milestone. We have really enjoyed being involved in this project and working with the lenders to achieve financial close.”

White & Case and Ironstone Capital advised ESCO Pacific and the Finley project entities. Ashurst advised John Laing.

This deal is another example of Herbert Smith Freehills’ market-leading work in the energy sector. Other recent examples include advising:

  • the Australian Renewable Energy Agency in relation to its $23 million grant funding of the Kwinana Waste to Energy Project;

  • Synergy on the establishment of Bright Energy Investments, a fund (with co-investment from DIF and CBUS) for the development of renewable energy assets in WA, including the acquisition and construction financing of the Greenough River Solar Farm and the acquisition financing of the Albany-Grasmere Wind Farm;

  • Total Eren in respect of their development of the 256MWp Stage 1 of the Kiamal Solar Farm in Victoria;

  • Pacific Hydro on the A$115 million project financing for Haughton Solar Farm (Stage 1) in Queensland; and

  • the financiers on the 87MW greenfield Beryl solar farm project financing and development.

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