Belltown Power leveraged a bridge debt facility from Leyline to take early-stage projects to sale in just one year.
In early 2020, Belltown Power was at an inflection point for their company’s US-based operations.
The renewable energy project developer had expanded into the United States a few years earlier after a successful track record in the United Kingdom. They now had a solid pipeline of assets in Texas and Pennsylvania, and saw a unique opportunity to scale into Kentucky, Michigan and Illinois.
However, their ability to grow was limited because the company’s capital was tied to projects on their balance sheet in ERCOT and PJM. Belltown needed a bridge to cover new development costs in additional states until the sale of certain other advanced projects would bring an influx of cash.
“There weren’t a lot of projects in the PJM queue for Kentucky or Michigan in early 2020, and we wanted to enter as soon as possible,” said Belltown US CEO Hernan Farace. “We were eager to accelerate our presence in PJM and expand there without having to wait for more internally-generated capital.”
Belltown Power started as an independent renewable energy developer in the United Kingdom just under a decade ago. The small, yet experienced team had successfully completed 24 projects across onshore wind, solar, and hydro power segments of the UK’s clean energy industry. In 2017, the company entered the United States to launch greenfield, utility-scale solar development evolving from the mid- to late-stage development that they had done previously.
While Belltown may be a mature developer with a wealth of energy experience, the company still values partners with a background in the space. Farace contacted Leyline in order to raise capital for their next phase of growth. He was intrigued by the Leyline team’s industry experience and unique financing products tailored to developers like Belltown.
“Leyline’s developer-friendly mentality helped us achieve a speedy time to execute to close the initial deal,” said Farace. “Because we had already secured sites to enter the interconnection queue, they were super expeditious and had a closing mentality.”
The Leyline team provided a loan to Belltown that was used toward project development costs as well as working capital to pay for overhead costs, such as employee salaries. The 4-year loan agreement was non-dilutive, meaning that it did not include any ownership stake in the parent company.
“Most importantly, our structure allowed Belltown to remain in control of their destiny, allowing them to sell their projects only when they determined they were receiving an ideal price for their assets,” said Eric Rubinstein, EVP & Chief Investment Officer at Leyline Renewable Capital.
“The arrangement was very flexible, and they didn’t micromanage us,” said Farace. “Their team was friendly, and when there were any challenges, we found a place to meet in the middle.”
The loan would provide exactly what Belltown Power needed. Less than a year later, Belltown announced a deal with Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) to sell two freshly-funded projects located in Kentucky and Illinois.
“Belltown’s success is the success we want to create for all developers,” said Rubinstein. “We strive to speed up the time between development cycles and get more projects in the ground, sooner.”
The company was able to fully repay its loan in just a single year. Instead of delaying their market entry, Belltown was able to get greenfield projects ready for the PJM interconnection queue before the waitlist became the problem that it is today.
“We became more successful, more quickly partly because of Leyline,” added Farace. “Our projects ended up working out because we were able to accelerate their development.”