As we heave a collective sigh of relief at finally putting 2020 behind us, let’s take a moment to reflect on the past 12 months through the lens of Power Finance & Risk’s most read stories of the year.
It’s hard to imagine now, but in early February the most pressing issue seemed to be the transition away from Libor as the reference rate for loans. If subsequent events have distracted market participants from this thorny topic, they may wish to revisit Taryana Odayar’s thorough and well-read report. Since it was published, the popular one-month and three-month Libor rates have won a stay of execution, so lenders now have until June 2023 to get their houses in order.
From March onward, however, a different topic dominated as bankers and borrowers – suddenly forced into lockdown and shut off from each other – turned to us for updates on supply chain issues and debt market liquidity and pricing.
On a more positive note, standalone battery storage began to come into its own as a distinct project finance asset class, with esVolta closing a landmark deal in February. As the industry matures, M&A activity has also picked up, with news of the proposed capital raise for Key Capture Energy pulling in plenty of eyeballs in April.
Readers also flocked to news in April that Rockland Capital and The Carlyle Group were stepping up their efforts in renewable energy. Ruben Fontes told PFR about his strategy as president of Rockland Renewable Ventures, while Carlyle made a high-profile hire from Clearway Energy in David Gluck.
Subscribers were curious about the impact of an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in April forbidding imports of certain ill-defined equipment from hostile nations. Nine months later we are still none the wiser as to which items are prohibited, though the decree did at least bring some attention to cybersecurity risks, which some bankers say is often overlooked.
By mid-year, bankers had settled into their new working patterns and Brookfield Infrastructure was preparing to launch an auction for district energy platform Enwave Energy Corp. The news got a lot of attention from readers, perhaps because of the success of a similar auction for Veolia’s US district energy assets the previous year.
And if proof were needed that the project finance market had well and truly survived the crisis, it came in August with the financial close of Competitive Power Ventures’ Three Rivers combined-cycle gas-fired project in Illinois – the only new-build project of its type to close in the US last year.
If you think you had a bad 2020, spare a thought for FirstEnergy Corp, which made headlines for all the wrong reasons as it was caught up in a bribery investigation in Ohio. High on the list of articles that got the most hits last year were our reports on the ousting of FirstEnergy CEO Charles Jones and several other employees in the wake of the scandal.
On a more poignant note, hundreds of market participants took time to read our obituaries of industry figures that passed away too soon – Competitive Power Ventures co-founder Doug Egan as well as Greg Wolf of Duke Energy and Leeward Renewable Energy. They will be missed.