By Melodie Warner
Alcoa Inc. (AA) agreed to sell its 351-megawatt hydroelectric project, Tapoco, to Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners L.P. (BRPFF, BEP.UN.T) for $600 million.
Tapoco is a four-station hydroelectric project located on the Little Tennessee and Cheoah Rivers in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. The sale includes four generating stations and dams, 86 miles of transmission line and about 14,500 acres of land surrounding Tapoco.
Brookfield Renewable said it will own a 25% stake in the project and the remaining equity interest will be funded by an institutional fund managed by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (BAM, BAM.A.T).
"We believe this acquisition provides a unique opportunity to capture rising electricity prices, and our operating platform and expertise is well-suited to maximize the value of this portfolio over the long term," said Brookfield Renewable President and Chief Executive Richard Legault.
Alcoa, the top U.S. aluminum producer, said it expects to close the deal by the year end.
In April, Alcoa said it would cut alumina production by about 2% this year as it looks to reduce smelter capacity amid global overcapacity and slumping prices for the lightweight metal. The lower prices and higher costs for energy contributed to its first-quarter earnings falling 69%.
The company said it would contend with sluggish aluminum prices by cutting costs and relying more on high-margin end products less vulnerable to slumping metal prices, such as bolts and wheels for cars and airplanes.
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