Jonathan Birenbaum, partner in the firm's New York office, who focuses his practice on acquisitions and dispositions, and financing in the energy and infrastructure sectors, was quoted in an article titled "MarketWeek: Power Project Financing Squeezed by Capital-Constrained Wall Street in 2009" that was published in SNL Financial on January 16, 2009.
The article discusses which power projects will attract financing in the coming year and why. According to the article, the most likely energy projects to be implemented are those with long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) with creditworthy counterparties, where there's a strong sponsor.
"Whether PPAs will be available and to what extent is going to be part of the negotiation process, as well as the economic process," said Birenbaum, "If people feel that they're going to have a better economic result by purchasing in the open market, they'd do that rather than lock themselves into rates in an unstable environment."
Birenbaum said he did not think the length of a PPA would fall to below 10 years, and acknowledged the tenure of PPAs was shrinking, a trend opposite to that which banks would like to see. The article states that banks look for longer-term PPAs for a return on investment, with 20 years being ideal—but in the current market climate, a PPA of 20 years or more is unlikely.
When asked what his outlook was for 2009, Birenbaum expressed cautious optimism.
"I don't think doors are going to open and everybody's going to be flooding in, like [the] day-after-Thanksgiving sales at stores," said Birenbaum. "But I think people are being more confident, I think people are looking at deals, and there's going to be a gradual ramp-up in the activity in the next coming months."