Caithness is a privately held company that specializes in the development, acquisition, operation and management of environmentally friendly, fossil fuel projects as well as energy storage, wind, solar, and geothermal renewable power projects. Since its establishment in 1964, Caithness has built an extensive portfolio of leading-edge, environmentally friendly renewable and fossil fuel power generation facilities. Caithness and its affiliates have successfully developed, operated, and owned interests in 42 operating power projects including over 3,000 MW of gas turbine projects, 1,190 MW of wind projects, 495 MW of geothermal projects, 160 MW of solar projects, and a 110-mile, 230 kV transmission line running from Dixie Valley, NV to Bishop, CA.
The company’s initial investment strategy was centered on natural resource exploration (e.g., gold, silver, oil and gas). In the early 1980’s, Caithness decided to apply its experience in resource exploration and project development to the development of geothermal electric generating plants. For nearly a decade, Caithness concentrated its efforts almost exclusively on the development of three domestic geothermal projects: the 240 MW Coso Geothermal Project in California, the 60 MW Dixie Valley and 17 MW Steamboat Geothermal Projects in Nevada.
During the 1990s, momentum gained from these initiatives drove the company’s expansion into other areas of the independent power industry, including wind and solar, as well as simple and combined-cycle natural-gas powered generating facilities. At the same time, Caithness brought into the company senior executives with extensive power industry experience. After many years of successful operations of a fleet of generating plants, Caithness sold a portion of its portfolio of operating assets in 2007 to Arclight Capital Partners, which renamed the portfolio Terra-Gen Power. Since 2007, Caithness has refocused its efforts on the development of environmentally progressive fossil fuel projects, as well as wind, solar, and geothermal renewable power projects.
Caithness developed, sited, permitted, and constructed one of the cleanest, most energy efficient and water conserving power plants in New York State. The Caithness Long Island Energy Center (“CLIEC”) was brought online in the summer of 2009, on-time and on-budget, and is currently providing Long Island, NY with approximately 350 MW of clean, reliable power. Since entering commercial operation, CLIEC has annually supplied nearly 20% of the power produced and 10% of electricity consumed on Long Island. It has done so while emitting less than half of its permitted air emissions (its permit being the strictest in New York) and without any lost time injuries to its staff. The success at CLIEC is a demonstration of the commitment of Caithness to safety, environmental stewardship and operating excellence.
In addition to the fossil fuel project success on Long Island, Caithness continues to develop renewable energy facilities. Another Caithness affiliate, Caithness Shepherds Flat, LLC (“CSF”) and its subsidiaries, permitted, sited, financed, and, in 2012, completed construction of an 845 MW wind farm (comprised of three separate projects) located in Oregon. The CSF subsidiaries successfully negotiated and entered into three separate power purchase agreements with Southern California Edison in 2008. The Shepherds Flat projects were completed on-time and on-budget and are currently providing power to Southern California Edison. The Shepherds Flat Wind Farms are one of the largest wind energy facilities in the world. The CSF projects were nominated for Infrastructure Journal’s Deal of the Decade Award and received Power Finance and Risk’s Best Renewables Deal Award.
In November 2015 Caithness closed on debt and equity financing to support the construction of the Caithness Freedom project, a 1,029MW natural gas fired combined-cycle power plant in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Caithness acquired the project during the development stage and completed the siting, permitting and contract negotiation activities. The project is sited at the intersection of a high voltage transmission line and a large interstate natural gas pipeline with access to “trapped” Marcelles Shale natural gas. These unique site characteristics allowed Caithness to significantly reduce construction costs. To reduce the volatility of the project’s cash flow during operations, Caithness negotiated a long term cross commodity tolling agreement with Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation. Also of note, the project was the first deal utilizing General Electric’s advanced 7HA.02 combustion turbines to be project financed. Caithness Freedom is currently under construction with anticipated in service date of June 2018. Once completed, Caithness Freedom will be one of the lowest cost and most efficient power plants in the PJM market.
Caithness is currently developing wind, solar, energy storage and natural gas-fired projects in various locations across the United States.