New Baltic Power Project Accelerates Offshore Wind Growth Plan and 20-year New York IREC Contract Offers Advances Near-Term Growth
TORONTO, Feb. 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northland Power Inc. ("Northland" or the "Company") (TSX: NPI) today reported operating and financial results for three months and year ended December 31, 2020. All dollar amounts set out herein are in thousands of Canadian dollars, unless otherwise stated.
"We are very pleased to have delivered strong 2020 operating results despite the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic," said Mike Crawley, Northland's President and Chief Executive Officer. "The recent announcement of our partnership in the 1200 MW Baltic Power project in Poland adds to our identified development projects creating a visible portfolio of 4 - 5 GW of incremental capacity. We are also pleased to announce our 300 MW New York Wind projects recently received IREC contract offers that provide a 20-year offtake agreement and are a key milestone as these near-term projects track towards financial close later this year and early 2022."
2020 Financial Results
- Sales increased 24% to $2,061 million from $1,659 million in 2019 and gross profit increased 20% to $1,858 million from $1,543 million primarily due to higher revenues at Deutsche Bucht and acquisition of EBSA, partially offset by lower wholesale market prices at Gemini and higher unpaid curtailments at Nordsee One due to negative pricing and unscheduled grid repairs by the German system operator.
- Adjusted EBITDA (a non-IFRS measure) increased 19% to $1,170 million from $985 million in 2019 primarily due to the same factors that increased sales and gross profit. Adjusted EBITDA of $1,170 million was within the revised 2020 guidance range of $1.1 to $1.2 billion.
- Free Cash Flow per share (a non-IFRS measure) decreased 2% to $1.73 from $1.77 in 2019 primarily as a result of the effect of lost revenues from unpaid curtailments at the German offshore wind facilities and lower wholesale market prices at Gemini, higher scheduled debt and interest payments and an increased level of development activity partially offset by contributions from Deutsche Bucht and EBSA. Free Cash Flow per share was slightly above the revised 2020 guidance range of $1.60 to $1.70 per share.
- Adjusted Free Cash Flow per share (a non-IFRS measure) increased 6% to $2.09 from $2.01 in 2019 primarily due to contributions from Deutsche Bucht and EBSA, partially offset by higher scheduled debt and interest payments.
- Net income increased 7% to $485.1 million from $451.8 million in 2019.
Sales, gross profit and net income, as reported under IFRS, include consolidated results of entities not wholly-owned by Northland, whereas non-IFRS financial measures include Northland's proportionate interest.
Effective with the fourth quarter 2020 results, management has introduced a supplementary non-IFRS cash flow measure, Adjusted Free Cash Flow (and associated per share amounts and adjusted payout ratio). Adjusted Free Cash Flow is calculated by excluding growth-related expenditures from Free Cash Flow. Management believes this measure provides a relevant presentation of cash flow generated from the business before investment-related decisions and is a meaningful measure of Northland's ability to generate cash flow, after on-going obligations, to reinvest in growth and fund dividend payments. Reinvesting in growth is a key part of Northland's long-term strategy.
- Business Update - The COVID-19 pandemic ("COVID-19") has had significant effects across global economies and sectors, including reduced power demand within the renewable energy sector. Each of Northland's operating facilities are deemed to be essential infrastructure and, as such, are operating uninterrupted as expected. Preventative measures remain in place in accordance with Northland's crisis response plans and applicable local government directives. Management continues to actively monitor the situation, which remains uncertain, and may take further actions as required or recommended by authorities.
While the vast majority of Northland's revenues are contracted under long-term agreements with creditworthy counterparties, there is some, yet limited, exposure to the wholesale market price of electricity at the offshore wind facilities.
Management believes Northland has sufficient liquidity available to address the impacts of COVID-19. As at December 31, 2020, Northland had access to $559 million of cash and liquidity, comprising $491 million of liquidity available under a syndicated revolving facility and $68 million of corporate cash on hand.
- Baltic Power, Polish Offshore Wind Project Acquisition - On January 29, 2021, Northland announced it had entered into an agreement with PKN ORLEN S.A. ("PKN ORLEN") to acquire (subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions) 49% interest in an offshore wind project in the Baltic Sea ("Baltic Power"). Baltic Power is a mid-development stage project located approximately 23 kilometers offshore from Poland's coast in the Baltic Sea with a total capacity of up to 1,200 MW. The project, which has secured its location permit, filed its environmental permit application in mid-2020 and signed its grid connection agreement, will allow Northland to capitalize on the growth in renewable energy demand in a growing Central European market. Inclusive of the purchase price, Northland expects to invest approximately PLN 290 million ($100 million) towards the Baltic Power development in 2021, including both growth expenditures and amounts expected to be capitalized on acquisition. Closing is expected in the first or second quarter of 2021.
- New York Onshore Wind Project Update - In February 2021, Northland received contract price offers from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for effectively 20-year indexed Renewable Energy Credits (REC) offtake contracts for its previously announced 300 MW onshore wind project in New York State ("NY Wind"). In the fourth quarter of 2020, as a result of the achievement of certain milestones, Northland commenced capitalization of the project's associated development costs.
- Retirement of James C. Temerty, C.M. - Effective January 31, 2021, James C. Temerty C.M. retired from Northland's Board of Directors. Mr. Temerty co-founded Northland in 1987 and served as a director of Northland since its initial listing in the public markets in 1997 and served as Chair of Northland until December 2019. Under Mr. Temerty's leadership, Northland grew from a regional Canadian power producer to a global player in the renewable power sector with assets across four continents.
- Executive Changes - Northland announces a change in its executive team with the departure of Troy Patton, Chief Operations Officer effective February 19, 2021. Mr. Patton provided significant energy and contribution to this role, including working with the Nordsee One team and others to form Northland Power Europe. Management thanks Mr. Patton for all of his efforts and wishes him all the best for the future. Northland's strong and experienced Operations leadership will continue overseeing the Company's facilities.
|Summary of Consolidated Results|
|(in thousands of dollars, except per share amounts)||Three months ended December 31,||Year ended December 31,|
|Net income (loss)||26,797||60,669||485,057||451,754|
|Adjusted EBITDA (1)||268,516||272,715||1,170,097||984,736|
|Cash provided by operating activities||310,499||333,626||1,321,601||1,224,415|
|Free Cash Flow (1)||56,376||67,355||343,588||318,480|
|Adjusted Free Cash Flow (1)||78,803||83,612||415,398||362,275|
|Cash dividends paid to common shareholders (2)||40,652||54,130||217,918||216,373|
|Total dividends declared (2)||60,610||54,131||245,067||216,396|
|Per share information|
|Weighted average number of shares - basic (000s)||201,962||180,434||198,774||180,322|
|Common and class A shares outstanding (000s) (3)||202,171||180,392||202,171||180,392|
|Net income (loss) - basic||$||0.11||$||0.23||$||1.76||$||1.71|
|Free Cash Flow - basic (1)||$||0.28||$||0.37||$||1.73||$||1.77|
|Adjusted Free Cash Flow - basic (1)||$||0.39||$||0.46||$||2.09||$||2.01|
|Total dividends declared to common and class A shareholders||$||0.30||$||0.30||$||1.20||$||1.20|
|Electricity production in gigawatt hours (GWh) (4)||2,651||2,666||9,455||9,060|
|(1)||Refer to the Non-IFRS Financial Measures section of this press release for additional information.|
|(2)||Represents total dividends paid or declared to common and class A shareholders including dividends in cash or in shares under the dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP), as well as the dividend equivalent payment to subscription receipt holders upon conversion to common shares on January 14, 2020.|
|(3)||As at December 31.|
|(4)||Includes Deutsche Bucht pre-completion production volumes. Refer to SECTION 5.1 Operating Results of the Management's Discussion and Analysis for the period ended December 31, 2020, for additional information.|
Fourth Quarter Results Summary
Offshore wind facilities
Electricity production was 3% or 44 GWh higher than the same quarter of 2019, due to higher wind resource in the North Sea, partially offset by lower grid availability due to repairs by the system operator at Nordsee One.
A key performance indicator for the offshore wind facilities is historical long-term average (LTA), where available, of the power production of each offshore wind facility. The following table summarizes actual electricity production and the LTA in GWh:
|Three months ended December 31,||Year ended December 31,|
|Electricity production (GWh)|
|(1) Includes GWh produced as well as attributed to paid curtailments. For Deutsche Bucht, includes pre-completion production for the first quarter of 2020 and fourth quarter of 2019.|
|(2) Represents the average historical power production for the quarterly or annual period since the respective commercial operation date of each offshore wind facility (2017 for Gemini and Nordsee One and 2020 for Deutsche Bucht) and excludes unpaid curtailments.|
Sales of $263 million decreased 3% or $8 million compared to the same quarter of 2019 primarily due to a lower wholesale market price at Gemini and unpaid curtailment from third-party grid outages affecting Nordsee One, partially offset by $5 million of favourable foreign exchange rate fluctuations. Operating income of $127 million decreased 16% or $25 million compared to the same quarter of 2019 largely due lower sales and higher operating costs, as described above, combined with the commencement of depreciation at Deutsche Bucht since reaching final completion at the end of March 2020. Adjusted EBITDA of $179 million decreased 7% or $14 million compared to the same quarter of 2019 primarily due to lower sales at Gemini and Nordsee One as described above, partially offset by contributions from Deutsche Bucht. The following table summarizes the effect on sales from three factors described above:
|Three months ended December 31,||Year ended December 31,|
|Wholesale market prices below SDE floor||$||4,692||$||4,032||$||26,696||$||8,022|
|Unpaid curtailment due to negative prices||$||1,649||$||1,863||$||22,369||$||8,261|
|Unpaid curtailment due to grid repairs||$||21,748||$||3,548||$||37,654||$||7,965|
Efficient natural gas facilities
Electricity production decreased 7% or 63 GWh compared to the same quarter of 2019 primarily due to fewer dispatches at Thorold, partially offset by higher production at North Battleford largely due to a shorter maintenance outage in 2020 compared to 2019. Sales of $113 million were in line with the same quarter of 2019, primarily because higher production and price escalation at North Battleford was offset by lower production across the other facilities. Operating income of $57 million was in line with the same quarter of 2019 and Adjusted EBITDA of $68 million was 5% or $3 million lower than the same quarter of 2019 largely due to higher operating costs primarily as a result of timing of maintenance outages compared to the same quarter of 2019.
Onshore renewable facilities
Electricity production was in line with the same quarter of 2019 primarily due to a lower wind resource partially offset by higher solar resource. Sales of $51 million were in line with the same period of 2019 primarily due to the same variances noted in electricity production. Operating income and Adjusted EBITDA of $21 million and $31 million, respectively, were similarly also in line with the same period of 2019.
Utilities include results of EBSA, a regulated power distribution utility in Colombia, which was acquired on January 14, 2020. For the three months ended December 31, 2020, EBSA operations contributed $23 million of Adjusted EBITDA largely in line with the past quarters of 2020.
General and administrative (G&A) costs
G&A costs of $28 million increased 105% or $15 million compared to the same quarter of 2019. Of this, operations G&A costs increased by $10 million primarily due to the acquisition of EBSA, and the commencement of operations at Deutsche Bucht, while corporate G&A increased $5 million primarily due to higher personnel costs to support Northland's growth.
Development costs of $20 million increased 26% or $4 million compared to the same quarter of 2019 primarily as a result of costs for advancing early stage development projects partially offsetting lower costs at Hai Long due to its commencement of capitalization in the third quarter. Northland commenced capitalization of development costs for NY Wind in the fourth quarter of 2020. In 2020, project developments costs were primarily attributable to the following projects: Hai Long, NY Wind, Dado Ocean, Chiba and some to Baltic Power, compared to primarily Hai Long in 2019.
Net finance costs of $95 million increased 2% or $1 million compared to the same quarter of 2019 primarily due to interest on borrowings to finance the EBSA Acquisition and the effect of previously capitalized interest costs at Deutsche Bucht, offset by lower interest costs as a result of scheduled principal repayments on facility-level loans.
Fair value gain on derivative contracts
Fair value gain on derivative contracts were $nil compared to $52 million in the same quarter of 2019 primarily due to the movement in the fair value of interest rate swaps and foreign exchange contracts.
Foreign exchange loss of $20 million was primarily due to unrealized loss from fluctuations in the closing foreign exchange rates.
Net income of $27 million decreased 56% or $34 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of 2019 primarily as a result of the factors described above, as well as a $25 million increase in tax expense primarily related to EBSA, Deutsche Bucht and Gemini becoming taxable due to past utilization of tax loss carryforwards.
Adjusted EBITDA of $269 million for the three months ended December 31, 2020, decreased 2% or $4 million compared to the same quarter of 2019. The significant factors decreasing Adjusted EBITDA include:
- $13 million increase in lost revenue from unpaid curtailments at Nordsee One largely due to significant grid outages and repairs by the third-party system operator;
- $11 million decrease in operating results from Gemini due to lower wholesale market price partially offset by higher production;
- $11 million increase in growth expenditures and corporate G&A costs due to the timing of business development activities and project development costs and due to higher personnel costs to support Northland's growth.
Factors partially offsetting these decreases in Adjusted EBITDA were:
- $23 million increase resulting from the inclusion of operating results from EBSA, acquired on January 14, 2020; and
- $9 million increase in operating results from Nordsee One, excluding the losses from grid outages and repairs by the third-party system operator, largely due to wind turbine generator availability and the effect of favourable foreign exchange rate fluctuations.
Free Cash Flow and Adjusted Free Cash Flow
Free Cash Flow of $56 million for the three months ended December 31, 2020, was 16% or $11 million lower than the same quarter of 2019. The significant factors decreasing Free Cash Flow include:
- $43 million increase in scheduled principal repayments primarily at Deutsche Bucht;
- $27 million decrease in overall earnings primarily due to factors affecting Adjusted EBITDA in the quarter such as lost revenue from grid outages and repairs at the German offshore wind facilities and lower wholesale market prices at Gemini, as explained above;
- $14 million increase in net interest expense due to interest on borrowings to finance the EBSA Acquisition and the effect of previously capitalized interest costs at Deutsche Bucht, partially offset by lower interest costs as a result of scheduled principal repayments on facility-level loans;
- $8 million of decommissioning reserve funding at Deutsche Bucht which announced commercial operations in March 2020 (amounts represent an annual cost); and
- $4 million increase in current tax expense primarily due to EBSA as well as at the offshore wind facilities, including Gemini becoming taxable in 2020.
Factors partially offsetting the decrease in Free Cash Flow was a $76 million increase in contribution from Deutsche Bucht since pre-completion revenues were excluded from Free Cash Flow in the same quarter last year.
Adjusted Free Cash Flow of $79 million for the three months ended December 31, 2020, was 6% or $5 million lower than the same quarter of 2019. The significant factors decreasing Adjusted Free Cash Flow were as described above for Free Cash Flow but exclude the $6 million increase in growth expenditures.
As at December 31, 2020, the rolling four quarter Free Cash Flow and adjusted net payout ratio improved to 63% and 52%, calculated on the basis of cash dividends paid, from 68% and 60%, respectively, for same period ending December 31, 2019. The improvement in both net payout ratios was primarily due to higher Free Cash Flow and Adjusted Free Cash Flow and reinstatement of the DRIP in the third quarter, partially offset by higher cash dividends paid upon conversion of subscription receipts in January 2020 and the redemption of the convertible debentures into common shares in May 2020.
Sources of liquidity in addition to Free Cash Flow
In addition to Free Cash Flow generated, Northland utilizes additional sources of liquidity to fund growth and capital investments. For the year ended December 31, 2020, management sourced additional liquidity through net proceeds from the EBSA non-recourse financing, proceeds from up-financing of North Battleford's loan, release of funds from Gemini's debt service reserve facility, Deutsche Bucht insurance proceeds, as well as cash conservation from reinstating DRIP in September 2020. Altogether, these initiatives generated additional proceeds of $280 million which was primarily used to fund growth and repay corporate debt.
2021 Financial Outlook - Key Highlights
For full details of Northland's financial outlook for 2021, refer to SECTION 10: OUTLOOK in Northland's 2020 Annual Report. Key highlights are presented below:
In 2021, management expects Adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion, remaining consistent with 2020.
Free Cash Flow
In 2021, management expects Free Cash Flow to be in the range of $1.30 to $1.50 per share. 2021 Free Cash Flow per share is expected to be lower than the 2020 Free Cash Flow per share of $1.73 primarily due to increased growth expenditures and higher corporate G&A costs in pursuit of the Company's continued execution of its global growth strategy. These increased expenditures relate to the development and advancement of Baltic Power, Chiba in Japan, Dado Ocean in South Korea and other offshore wind projects. 2021 growth expenditures are expected to total approximately $100 million or $0.50 of 2021 Free Cash Flow per share.
In addition to growth expenditures, the Company expects to make capital investments of $100 million in 2021 to advance Hai Long, NY Wind, Baltic Power and other projects. Capital investments are largely expected to be funded through cash on hand and through Northland's corporate credit facilities and do not impact Free Cash Flow.
Adjusted Free Cash Flow (Free Cash Flow Excluding Growth Expenditures)
Northland's Adjusted Free Cash Flow for 2021 is expected to be in the range of $1.80 to $2.00 per share, adjusting for the growth expenditures noted above. This compares with Adjusted Free Cash Flow of $2.01 for the year ended December 31, 2019.
LONG-TERM OUTLOOK AND GROWTH IN ADJUSTED EBITDA
Northland's growth trajectory is expected to continue given the accelerating global trend towards de-carbonization and electrification, and its extensive portfolio of offshore wind development. The Company has advanced and secured the rights to a number of development projects, primarily offshore wind, which if successful will increase Northland's installed gross capacity by at least 4 to 5 GW and require approximately $15 to $20 billion ($10 to $14 net) of total gross capital investment over the next five years. These projects, once operational by the latter half of the decade, are expected to more than double the Company's Adjusted EBITDA, after taking into account the Company's ownership interest.
Fourth-Quarter Earnings Conference Call
Northland will hold an earnings conference call on February 23, 2021, to discuss its 2020 fourth quarter results. The call will be hosted by Mike Crawley, Northland's President and Chief Executive Officer, and Pauline Alimchandani, Northland's Chief Financial Officer, who will discuss the financial results and company developments before opening the call to questions from analysts.
Conference call details are as follows:
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 10:00 a.m. ET
Conference ID: 4851159
Toll free (North America): (833) 693-0550
Toll free (International): (661) 407-1589
The call will also be broadcast live on the internet, in listen-only mode and may be accessed on northlandpower.com (https://www.northlandpower.com). For those unable to attend the live call, an audio recording will be available on northlandpower.com (https://www.northlandpower.com) on February 24, 2020.
Northland's audited consolidated financial statements for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2020, and related Management's Discussion and Analysis can be found on SEDAR at www.sedar.com under Northland's profile and on northlandpower.com (https://www.northlandpower.com).
ABOUT NORTHLAND POWER
Northland Power is a global power producer dedicated to helping the clean energy transition by producing electricity from clean renewable resources. Founded in 1987, Northland has a long history of developing, building, owning and operating clean and green power infrastructure assets and is a global leader in offshore wind. In addition, Northland owns and manages a diversified generation mix including onshore renewables, solar and efficient natural gas energy, as well as supplying energy through a regulated utility.
Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, with global offices in eight countries, Northland owns or has an economic interest in 2.7 GW (net 2.3 GW) of operating generating capacity and a significant inventory of early to mid-stage development opportunities encompassing approximately 4 to 5 GW of potential capacity.
Publicly traded since 1997, Northland's common shares, Series 1, Series 2 and Series 3 preferred shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbols NPI, NPI.PR.A, NPI.PR.B and NPI.PR.C, respectively.
NON-IFRS FINANCIAL MEASURES
This press release includes references to the Company's adjusted earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization ("AdjustedEBITDA"), Free Cash Flow, Adjusted Free Cash flow and applicable payout ratios and per share amounts, measures not prescribed by International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), and therefore do not have any standardized meaning under IFRS and may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies. Non-IFRS financial measures are presented at Northland's share of underlying operations. These measures should not be considered alternatives to net income (loss), cash flow from operating activities or other measures of financial performance calculated in accordance with IFRS. Rather, these measures are provided to complement IFRS measures in the analysis of Northland's results of operations from management's perspective. Management believes that Northland's non-IFRS financial measures and applicable payout ratio and per share amounts are widely accepted and understood financial indicators used by investors and securities analysts to assess the performance of a company, including its ability to generate cash through operations. Refer to the SECTION 1: OVERVIEW, SECTION 5.5: Adjusted EBITDA, SECTION 5.6: Free Cash Flow and Adjusted Free Cash Flow and SECTION 6: CHANGES IN FINANCIAL POSITION of the current Management's Discussion and Analysis, which can be found on SEDAR at www.sedar.com under Northland's profile and on northlandpower.com, for an explanation of these terms and for reconciliations to the nearest IFRS measure.
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements that are provided for the purpose of presenting information about management's current expectations and plans. Readers are cautioned that such statements may not be appropriate for other purposes. Forward-looking statements include statements that are predictive in nature, depend upon or refer to future events or conditions, or include words such as "expects," "anticipates," "plans," "predicts," "believes," "estimates," "intends," "targets," "projects," "forecasts" or negative versions thereof and other similar expressions or future or conditional verbs such as "may," "will," "should," "would" and "could." These statements may include, without limitation, statements regarding future Adjusted EBITDA, Free Cash Flows, dividend payments and dividend payout ratios; the construction, completion, attainment of commercial operations, cost and output of development projects; litigation claims; plans for raising capital; and the future operations, business, financial condition, financial results, priorities, ongoing objectives, strategies and outlook of Northland and its subsidiaries. These statements are based upon certain material factors or assumptions that were applied in developing the forward-looking statements, including the design specifications of development projects, the provisions of contracts to which Northland or a subsidiary is a party, management's current plans and its perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments, as well as other factors that are believed to be appropriate in the circumstances. Although these forward-looking statements are based upon management's current reasonable expectations and assumptions, they are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties. Some of the factors that could cause results or events to differ from current expectations include, but are not limited to, revenue contracts, impact of COVID-19 pandemic, counterparty risks, contractual operating performance, variability of revenue from generating facilities powered by intermittent renewable resources, offshore wind concentration, natural gas and power market risks, operational risks, recovery of utility operating costs, permitting, construction risks, project development risks, acquisition risks, financing risks, interest rate and refinancing risks, liquidity risk, credit rating risk, currency fluctuation risk, variability of cash flow and potential impact on dividends, taxation, natural events, environmental risks, health and worker safety risks, market compliance risk, government regulations and policy risks, utility rate regulation risks, international activities, reliance on information technology, labour relations, reputational risk, insurance risk, risks relating to co-ownership, bribery and corruption risk, legal contingencies, and the other factors described in the "Risks Factors" section of Northland's 2020 Annual Information Form, which can be found at www.sedar.com under Northland's profile and on Northland's website at northlandpower.com. Northland's actual results could differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, these forward-looking statements and, accordingly, no assurances can be given that any of the events anticipated by the forward-looking statements will transpire or occur.
The forward-looking statements contained in this release are based on assumptions that were considered reasonable on February 22, 2021. Other than as specifically required by law, Northland undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after such date or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events, whether as a result of new information, future events or results, or otherwise.
For further information, please contact:
Mr. Wassem Khalil, Senior Director, Investor Relations