The climate for energy-focused partnerships between the government and private investors -- both strategic and financial -- has never been more favorable. "There's an awful lot of federal money aimed at renewable energy," says Bill Tyndall, who took over as senior vice president for government and regulatory affairs for Duke Energy Corp. "What Duke and every other company developing and operating renewable energy projects is doing is trying to take advantage of those programs."
With a resumé that includes stints in government, corporate development and private equity, Tyndall has the experience to do just that. Between 1995 and 1998, he was minority counsel to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, working closely with Reps. John Dingell and Henry Waxman. He later worked at Cinergy Corp., where he helped negotiate the company's $14 billion sale in 2005 to Duke Energy. Nine months after the deal closed, he moved to energy-focused PE firm Natsource LLC.
"I think one of the models, going forward, will be partnerships on energy projects between strategic and financial sponsors," says Tyndall. "It already happens, but as projects get larger and more complicated, and as more traditional leverage dries up, it makes a lot of sense for companies and private equity firms to partner up."
Duke Energy, for one, is open to those opportunities, says Tyndall, adding that the federal government's role in these alliances could be twofold: funding renewable energy projects that are unable to secure private financing and sanctioning new technologies to help legitimize them in the marketplace. Still, even with the stars aligned for public-private partnerships, negotiating and managing a venture that includes some combination of corporate, financial and government partners won't be easy."Having sat in so many different seats looking at the same set of issues, I can say that people who've spent their lives in government or in a PE shop come to a deal with views and realities that they have a very difficult time leaving behind," says Tyndall. "Even when there are gains to be made in understanding or satisfying the other person's point of view to get to a deal, it's still a challenge."