Oregon Project Restarts as Owner Replaces Ailing Builder
Utility Portland General Electric is taking over completion, with new contractors, of a 440-MW natural-gas-fired powerplant in Oregon after declaring the estimated $515-million project’s Spanish-owned builder in default. Madrid-based power giant Abengoa, parent of former site contractor Abeinsa, is coping with cash woes and working with creditors on a financial restructuring by Jan. 18 to avoid bankruptcy.
The utility’s action, confirmed in a Jan. 7 Securities and Exchange Commission filing, follows a halt to work last month and the removal of Abeinsa, which had been on site at the Carty Generating Station since 2014. The plant is among state efforts to meet newly released clean-energy targets.
The utility said, “A new construction management team [will] update work plans at Carty before putting crews back to work.” But a PGE spokesman declined to disclose the names of the construction companies that have been hired as contractor replacements, saying the process is not final. Sargent & Lundy is the design engineer.
The utility also did not say whether project completion, announced as mid-year, would be affected. Last month, Jim Piro, PGE president and CEO, said the project was 75% complete. PGE said it is in discussions with sureties Liberty Mutual Surety and Zurich North America, which provided a $145.6-million performance bond, but the spokesman declined to disclose any new project cost.
Abengoa received $123 million from banks last month to finance ongoing operations as it proceeds to avert what would be Spain’s largest bankruptcy. The firm, which took on large debt to finance a global expansion in clean energy that includes a number of U.S. projects, is renegotiating with lenders its outstanding debt of as much as $27.4 billion. Abengoa is hoping to reach a deal with its creditors before a March 28 deadline, after which it would have to file for insolvency.
Abengoa told ENR last month that it is reviewing, “case by case,” its more than 250 projects in 50 countries. Abeinsa is ranked by ENR as the third-largest power contractor in Latin America.