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Northland Power Announces 62% Increase in Second Quarter Adjusted EBITDA Reflecting Success in Its Offshore Wind Investments

August 09, 2017

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - August 09, 2017) -

  • Management Increases 2017 Adjusted EBITDA And Free Cash Flow Per Share Financial Guidance
  • Northland Concludes Strategic Review And Will Continue As An Independent, Publicly-Traded Company

Not for distribution to U.S. newswire services or for dissemination in the United States or its possessions. Any failure to comply with this restriction may constitute a violation of U.S. securities law.

Northland Power Inc. ("Northland" or "the Company") (TSX: NPI) (TSX: NPI.PR.A) (TSX: NPI.PR.B) (TSX: NPI.PR.C) (TSX: NPI.DB.B) (TSX: NPI.DB.C)today reported financial results for the three and six months ended June 30, 2017. The Company also announced it concluded its strategic review and will continue to operate and pursue future growth opportunities as an independent publicly-traded leader in clean power infrastructure.

Second Quarter Highlights:

Financial

  • Sales increased by 82.5% or $145.7 million and gross profit increased by 105.5% or $145.6 million over the second quarter of 2016 primarily due to the contribution from Gemini, which achieved commercial operations on April 28, 2017 and pre-completion revenues from Nordsee One, which began producing power on March 31, 2017, combined with positive contributions from the Grand Bend, North Battleford and Iroquois Falls facilities. These variances were partially offset by lower contributions from the ground-mounted solar facilities and from Kingston (see SECTION 3.1: Facility Results in the current MD&A for additional information).
  • Adjusted EBITDA (a non-IFRS measure) for the second quarter increased by 61.8% over the same period in 2016 to $168.2 million primarily due to the factors described above, partially offset by an increase in management and administration costs.
  • Free cash flow per share (a non-IFRS measure) increased to $0.57 compared to $0.27 in the second quarter of 2016 primarily as a result of a one-time cash distribution received at Gemini's full completion, representing Northland's share of net pre-completion revenue in excess of the amount required by project lenders to fund construction costs ("the Gemini Completion Distribution"), as well as a full quarter of contributions from Grand Bend partially offset by lower contributions from Kingston.
  • Net income for the quarter was $61.7 million compared to $23.4 million in the second quarter of 2016. The variance in net income was a result of the increase in operating income, partially offset by the lower non-cash gain related to financial derivative contracts and an increase in finance costs.

Construction

  • Gemini - 600 MW offshore wind farm, North Sea - On April 28, 2017, Northland announced that the Gemini offshore wind farm achieved full completion. The project was completed ahead of schedule and under its total budget of EUR2.8 billion. Concurrent with full completion, Gemini successfully and favourably renegotiated the project's EUR2 billion senior debt. This renegotiation reduced the weighted average all-in interest rate by 80 basis points to 3.8%, removed the cash sweep requirements in year five under the previous mini-perm financing, and significantly improves expected distributions to Gemini's owners. Gemini made its first cash distribution to its owners in May 2017; regular operating distributions are expected to commence in December 2017 and occur semi-annually thereafter.
  • Nordsee One - 332 MW offshore wind farm, North Sea - Construction of the Nordsee One offshore wind farm continues to progress according to the project plan. Installation of the project's 54 wind turbines commenced in March 2017 and 44 turbines have been installed as of the date hereof. Turbine installation will continue in parallel with the progressive commissioning of the wind turbines. Installation of all 54 Nordsee One wind turbines is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Other

  • Long-Term Enhanced Dispatch Contract - On July 4, 2017, Northland announced that a permanent Long-Term Enhanced Dispatch Contract (LTEDC) for its Iroquois Falls facility was executed with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). The contract, which succeeded the interim enhanced dispatch arrangement ("Interim EDC") and took effect July 1, 2017, is expected to result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions, cost savings for Ontario electricity consumers, and improved economics for Northland. The LTEDC expires in 2021 and replaces the facility's previous contract with the Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation. Under the agreement, the facility will operate in dispatchable mode rather than baseload.
  • Acquisition of 252 MW DeBu Offshore Wind Project - Completion of Northland's acquisition of Deutsche Bucht ("DeBu") is subject to achieving certain conditions which are anticipated to be completed shortly. Financial close and the commencement of construction are expected to follow with full commercial operations expected by the end of 2019. Development of the project is progressing well and all key construction contracts have been signed. The total estimated project cost is approximately EUR1.3 billion (CAD $1.9 billion). Northland expects to invest approximately $400 million of corporate funds, sourced from cash on hand and corporate liquidity. The balance of the project cost will be funded with non-recourse project finance debt and pre-completion revenues. The project is investigating the development of two additional demonstration turbines utilizing suction bucket foundations. The final investment decision for these two turbines are subject to achieving certain development milestones. If built they will contribute an additional 17 MW of capacity, and bring the total project cost to approximately EUR1.4 billion (CAD $2.0 billion). Northland's investment would increase to approximately $425 million, funded by cash and corporate debt, with the balance of incremental costs funded by additional project debt.
  • Addition to Northland's Executive Leadership Team - Morten Melin joined Northland as Executive Vice President, Construction effective August 1, 2017. Morten has extensive experience working in the international renewable energy sector, including his involvement on more than 25 offshore as well as several onshore wind projects. Most recently, Morten was Vice President, Engineering, Procurement & Construction for DONG Energy Wind Power based in Europe.
  • Increase in 2017 Financial Guidance - Northland increased 2017 adjusted EBITDA guidance to a range of $710 million to $750 million, up from the range of $660 million to $710 million previously disclosed. Commensurate with adjusted EBITDA, Northland increased free cash flow per share guidance to be in the range of $1.18 to $1.30 per share, up from the $1.03 to $1.18 per share previously disclosed. See Outlook section for more details.

As noted above, Northland has now concluded the process it announced in July 2016 to conduct a review of strategic review process alternatives.

James Temerty, Northland's founder, largest shareholder and Chair of the Board stated "Over the course of the past year or so, we have completed the EUR2.8 billion Gemini project ahead of schedule and under budget, we completed the $365 million Grand Bend wind farm ahead of schedule and under budget, we are nearing the completion of the EUR1.2 billion Nordsee One project, and now have a much stronger platform than we had at the time we launched the strategic review in July 2016. Given the substantial progress we have made and the numerous growth opportunities available, the Board of Directors and management have concluded that our current platform as an independent Canadian public company and leader in the international clean energy infrastructure sector is the preferred strategy going forward. I continue to be excited about the value that the Company can create."

"Our positive financial and operating performance reinforces our conviction that Northland is well positioned to deliver and grow value for its shareholders," said John Brace, Chief Executive Officer. "In addition to the milestones of our first two offshore wind projects, the impending acquisition of DeBu demonstrates yet again that we are able to compete for and win the best projects in the industry. The addition of Morten Melin to our team in the role of Executive Vice President, Construction, shows we can attract some of the best talent in the industry."

"Our top-notch team will continue to build value by finding, acquiring and developing the best power projects, benefitting our shareholders and the environment," added John Brace.

 
Summary of Consolidated Second Quarter Results
In thousands of dollars except per share and energy unit amounts
  Three months ended
June 30,
Six months ended
June 30,
  2017 2016 2017 2016
FINANCIALS            
 Sales  322,351  176,626  686,402  354,754  
 Gross Profit  283,603  138,026  606,685  267,368  
 Operating Income  144,527  59,405  332,159  126,429  
 Net Income (Loss)  61,733  23,376  161,845  (68,275 )
 Adjusted EBITDA (1)  168,158  103,930  366,275  207,867  
 Cash Provided by Operating Activities  142,155  107,762  418,860  216,582  
              
 Free Cash Flow (1)  99,717  46,316  141,265  91,182  
 Cash Dividends Paid to Common and Class A Shareholders  33,298  34,559  66,853  71,025  
 Total Dividends Declared to Common and Class A Shareholders (2)  46,964  46,318  93,769  92,486  
             
Per Share            
 Free Cash Flow (1) $0.573 $0.270 $0.811 $0.531  
 Total Dividends Declared to Common and Class A            
 Shareholders (2) $0.270 $0.270 $0.540 $0.540  
             
ENERGY VOLUMES            
 Electricity (megawatt hours) (3)  1,312,217  1,294,542  3,021,338  2,715,265  
(1)Please see Non-IFRS Financial Measures for an explanation of these terms and SECTION 3.2: Consolidated Results and SECTION 5: Equity, Liquidity and Capital Resources of the current quarter's MD&A for reconciliations to the nearest IFRS measures.
  
(2) Total dividends to Common and Class A Shareholders represent dividends declared irrespective of whether the dividend is received in cash or in shares as part of the DRIP.
  
(3)Includes Gemini and Nordsee One pre-completion production volumes, which totalled 213,895 and 843,208 MWhs for the three and six months ended June 30, 2017, respectively and 89,555 and 100,555 MWhs for the same periods last year. The related pre-completion revenues are included in sales.

Second Quarter 2017 Results - Summary
Offshore wind facilities
Electricity production, including pre-completion production, during the three months ended June 30, 2017 was 432,280 MWh higher than the comparable periods in 2016 due to Gemini's production. Gemini achieved full completion on April 28, 2017, and Nordsee One remained under construction at the end of the quarter. Sales of $160.7 million and adjusted EBITDA of $82.5 million were driven largely by revenue reported for Gemini. As previously reported, in August 2016, Gemini retroactively commenced its two power contracts effective March 1, 2016, and July 1, 2016. Commencing the power contracts entitled the project to begin receiving its contracted subsidy in addition to market revenues for the subsequent 15 years. Gemini operating results for 2017 will reflect full revenues on all MWh generated. Adjusted EBITDA includes Northland's share of both projects' overhead costs (management and administration) which do not qualify for capitalization or deferral under IFRS.

Thermal facilities
Electricity production during the second quarter of 2017 was 430,399 MWh lower than the same quarter of 2016 largely due to both Iroquois Falls and Kingston not producing electricity during this period (see SECTION 3.1: Facility Results in the current MD&A for additional information) and fewer dispatch hours at Thorold. Iroquois Falls operated under the Interim EDC with improved economics for Northland. As a result of these factors and higher flow-through gas costs at North Battleford, sales were $12.5 million lower than the second quarter of 2016. Operating income and adjusted EBITDA for the three-month period ended June 30, 2017, were lower by $7.7 million and $10.5 million, respectively, than the comparable period in 2016 because lower gross profit was partially offset by lower plant operating and other costs.

On-shore renewable facilities
Electricity production during the second quarter of 2017 was 15,794 MWh higher than the same quarter of 2016 primarily due to a 38,076 MWh contribution from Grand Bend, which declared commercial operations in April 2016. These results were partially offset by a 13,794 MWh decrease in solar production as a result of heavy cloud cover at all solar facilities, and a net decrease in production at the other wind facilities caused by lower wind resources. Sales for the second quarter of 2017 were consistent with the comparable period in 2016 as a result of higher sales at Grand Bend offsetting the impact of lower production at other facilities. Plant operating costs were $0.8 million higher than the second quarter of 2016, primarily due to the impact of Grand Bend. As a result of the above factors, operating income and adjusted EBITDA for the renewable facilities were lower by $2.3 million and $4.0 million, respectively.

Management and administration costs
Management and administration costs of $20.4 million were $5.6 million higher than the second quarter of 2016. Corporate management and administration costs were $3.8 million higher than the comparable period in 2016 largely due to higher early-stage development activities ($0.5 million) and personnel costs ($2.1 million). Facility management and administration costs were $1.8 million higher primarily due to personnel, office and other costs related to Gemini that are no longer capitalized due to commencement of commercial operations.

Finance costs
Finance costs, net (primarily interest expense), increased by $32.1 million from the second quarter of 2016 due to the inclusion of interest expense incurred at Gemini and Grand Bend.

Non-cash fair value loss
Non-cash fair value loss of $2.1 million in the second quarter of 2017 (compared to an $18.3 million gain in the second quarter of 2016) is primarily due to an unrealized foreign exchange loss. Effective January 1, 2017, Northland early adopted IFRS 9 and elected to apply hedge accounting which allows Northland to record the effective portion of mark-to-market adjustments on its derivative contracts in other comprehensive income. The fair value adjustments are non-cash items which will reverse over time, and have no impact on the cash obligations of Northland or its projects. Further details are provided in Note 4 of the unaudited interim condensed consolidated financial statements for the period ended June 30, 2017.

Net income
The factors described above, combined with $0.2 million and $0.2 million, respectively of current and deferred taxes, resulted in net income of $61.7 million for the second quarter of 2017, compared to $23.4 million for the second quarter of 2016.

Adjusted EBITDA
Northland's adjusted EBITDA for the three months ended June 30, 2017 was $64.2 million higher than the second quarter of 2016.

The significant factors increasing adjusted EBITDA were:

  • $85.0 million increase in operating results from Gemini which began full commercial operations on April 28, 2017;
  • $3.3 million increase in operating results from North Battleford and Iroquois Falls; and
  • $2.6 million increase in operating results from Grand Bend due to a full quarter of contribution.

The favourable results were partially offset by:

  • $12.3 million decrease in operating results from Kingston;
  • $6.2 million decrease in operating results from Northland's solar facilities due to lower production;
  • $4.6 million decrease in results from Northland's other operating facilities; and
  • $3.6 million increase in relevant corporate management and administration costs primarily related to early-stage development projects and personnel costs.

Free Cash Flow, Payout Ratio and Dividends to Shareholders
Free cash flow of $99.7 million for the second quarter of 2017 was $53.4 million higher than the corresponding period in 2016.

Significant factors increasing free cash flow were:

  • $98.9 million increase in contributions from Gemini, including regular operating results beginning April 28, 2017 and the Gemini Completion Distribution;
  • $3.3 million increase in operating results from North Battleford and Iroquois Falls; and
  • $2.6 million increase in operating results from Grand Bend due to a full quarter of contribution.

Factors decreasing free cash flow were:

  • $18.6 million decrease in operating results due to lower sales at Kingston and at the ground-mounted solar facilities;
  • $14.6 million payment of contingent consideration to the vendor of Gemini;
  • $7.9 million increase in debt service costs primarily due to the inclusion of Gemini and Grand Bend debt;
  • $4.0 million increase in relevant corporate management and administration costs primarily related to early-stage development projects and personnel costs; and
  • $6.3 million decrease in results from Northland's other operating facilities.

For the three months ended June 30, 2017, common share and Class A Share dividends declared for the quarter totaled $0.27 per share. The increase in quarterly free cash flow from 2016, described above, was the primary reason for the improvement in the quarterly cash payout ratio to 33.4% or 47.1% if all dividends were paid out in cash (i.e. excluding the effect of Northland's DRIP).

Outlook
Northland actively pursues new power development opportunities that encompass a range of clean technologies, including natural gas, wind, solar and hydro.

Due to solid performance, a favourable foreign exchange rate and an improved outlook for Northland's facilities, management has increased its expected adjusted EBITDA guidance in 2017 to be $710 million to $750 million, up from the range of $660 million to $710 million previously disclosed.

Additionally, commensurate with the increase in adjusted EBITDA guidance, the Gemini Completion Distribution and planned use of cash and credit to fund DeBu, management has increased the expected 2017 free cash flow per share guidance to be in the range of $1.18 to $1.30 per share, up from the $1.03 to $1.18 per share previously disclosed. Nordsee One's net pre-completion revenue is excluded from the free cash flow outlook because the expected cash generated will be primarily used to fund construction costs pursuant to the credit agreement.

Non-IFRS Measures
This press release includes references to Northland's free cash flow and adjusted EBITDA which are not measures prescribed by International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Free cash flow and adjusted EBITDA do not have any standardized meaning under IFRS and, as presented, may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies. These measures should not be considered alternatives to net income, 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 free cash flow and adjusted EBITDA are widely accepted financial indicators used by investors to assess the performance of a company and its ability to generate cash through operations.

Earnings Conference Call
Northland will hold an earnings conference call on August 10 at 10:00 am EDT to discuss its 2017 second quarter results. John Brace, Northland's Chief Executive Officer, Paul Bradley, Northland's Chief Financial Officer and Mike Crawley, Northland's Executive Vice President, Business Development and will discuss the financial results and company developments before opening the call to questions from analysts and shareholders.

Conference call details are as follows:
Date: Thursday, August 10, 2017
Start Time: 10:00 a.m. EDT
Phone Number: Toll free within North America: 1-844-284-3434

For those unable to attend the live call, an audio recording will be available on Northland's website at (www.northlandpower.ca) from the afternoon of August 10 until August 25, 2017.

ABOUT NORTHLAND

Northland is an independent power producer founded in 1987, and publicly traded since 1997. Northland develops, builds, owns and operates facilities that produce 'clean' (natural gas) and 'green' (wind, solar, and hydro) energy, providing sustainable long-term value to shareholders, stakeholders, and host communities.

The Company owns or has a net economic interest in 1,754 MW of operating generating capacity and 332 MW (282 MW net to Northland) of generating capacity under construction, representing an 85% equity stake in Nordsee One, an offshore wind project located in the North Sea. The Company also recently announced the acquisition of a 100% equity stake in a 252 MW offshore wind project DeBu currently in advanced development in the North Sea.

Northland's cash flows are diversified over four geographically separate regions and regulatory jurisdictions in Canada and Europe.

Northland's common shares, Series 1, Series 2 and Series 3 preferred shares and Series B and Series C convertible debentures trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbols NPI, NPI.PR.A, NPI.PR.B, NPI.PR.C, NPI.DB.B, and NPI.DB.C, respectively.

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This 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, natural events, construction risks, counterparty risks, operational risks, risks relating to co-ownership, the variability of revenues from generating facilities powered by intermittent renewable resources, power market risks and possible inflation risks and the other factors described in the "Risks and Uncertainties" section of Northland's 2016 Annual Report and the 2016 Annual Information Form dated March 2, 2017, both of which can be found at www.sedar.com under Northland's profile and on Northland's website at www.northlandpower.ca. 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 August 9, 2017. 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:
Contact Barb Bokla
Manager, Investor Relations
647-288-1438

Or Adam Beaumont
Director of Finance
647-288-1929
E-Mail: investorrelations@northlandpower.ca
Website: www.northlandpower.ca

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