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Infigen to walk away from wind farm
The West Australian

The owner of WA's second-biggest wind farm has confirmed it is considering offloading the asset in a bid to cut its bulging $1 billion debt mountain.

Responding to reports yesterday that it was planning the sale of $1.2 billion of wind farms as part of a radical shake-up of its Australian business, Infigen Energy said the move could give it more financial flexibility.

"Infigen Energy continues to assess a range of options to provide improved financial flexibility," the company said in a release to the securities exchange.

"Infigen Energy also continues to deal constructively with bona fide opportunities that might advance the group's strategy, including (among other things) potential asset sales.

"Infigen will provide disclosure to the market if and when it becomes appropriate or required."

It gave no details about the fate of its only WA asset, the 90 megawatt wind farm near Walkaway 30km south-east of Geraldton.

The farm provides power exclusively to Alinta Energy, which onsells it to WA businesses.

Electricity from the wind farm is exported through a 132kV transmission line, which crosses the wind farm site.

Infigen has other farms in the US and around Australia which, unlike Walkaway, are connected to a national grid, meaning the local operation could be ripe for selling.

Since commencing operations in 2006, the Infigen site has been dwarfed by the UBS-backed Collgar wind farm in the Wheatbelt, which opened in 2011 at a cost of $750 million.

But since that deal, the WA Government has changed rules for the wholesale electricity market, which have cut revenue at some wind farms by as much as 30 per cent, in a bid to reflect the cost that intermittent wind power places on the State's grid.

Despite these changes, State-owned generator Verve is planning to significantly increase WA's share of renewable energy supplies by spending $600 million to build the State's biggest wind farm.

In documents lodged with WA's environmental watchdog last year, Verve said the Warradarge wind farm, about 270km north of Perth, could produce enough electricity to power 140,000 homes.