KUALA LUMPUR: University Teknologi MARA’s unit, UiTM Solar Power Dua Sdn Bhd (UiTM Solar 2) has proposed a green SRI Sukuk of up to RM100mil which would be used for its solar plants.
Malaysian Rating Corporation Bhd (MARC) said on Tuesday it had assigned a preliminary rating of AA-IS to UiTM Solar 2’s sukuk with a stable outlook for the rating.
UiTM Solar 2 was set up to develop and operate a 25MW solar power plant in Pasir Gudang, Johor.
Its parent, UiTM Energy & Facilities Sdn Bhd (UiTM Energy) operates a 50MW solar power plant in Gambang, Pahang through another subsidiary which has been rated at AA-/Stable by MARC. UiTM Energy is owned by UiTM.
“The assigned rating to UiTM Solar 2’s proposed sukuk mainly reflects the strength of the 21-year power purchase agreement (PPA) between UiTM Solar 2 and Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB, AAA/Stable) which mitigates offtaker risk.
“The rating also factors in the adequacy of the projected cash flows to meet the sukuk obligations throughout the sukuk tenure. As with other solar power plants, the moderating factors continue to be the variability of solar irradiance and the plant’s operational performance, ” it said.
MARC noted that after a prolonged delay due to the unanticipated lengthy approval process related to the status of the land on which the plant is sited, and the substantial impact on the construction timeline from the Covid-19 pandemic, the project achieved commercial operation date (COD) on Nov 26,2020 from the initial scheduled COD on Jan 1,2020.
Due to the delay, UiTM Solar 2 is subject to liquidated damages (LD) payment of RM25,000 per day to TNB for which it has allocated a contingency fund of RM8mil in the total project cost. This is sufficient to meet the maximum LD of RM4.5mil.
“Total project cost, estimated at RM125mil, is funded based on a finance-to-equity ratio of 80:20, ” it said.
The engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) contractor for the project, SPIC Energy Malaysia Berhad (SPIC Energy), undertook the construction costs which will be paid from the proceeds of the proposed sukuk. The EPCC contract is fixed price, which alleviates cost overrun risks.
MARC draws comfort from the demonstrated track record of SPIC Energy in completing a similar project in Sabah.
SPIC Energy is an indirect subsidiary of China state-owned company, State Power Investment Corporation Limited, a group that has substantial experience in solar power projects.
During the operational phase, UiTM Energy will undertake the operations and maintenance (O&M) of UiTM Solar 2’s solar power plant.
Under the base case cash flow projections that assume P90 energy production levels, the minimum and average finance service cover ratios (FSCR) with cash stood at 1.98 times and three times throughout the sukuk tenure.
Sensitivity analysis indicate that the projected cash flow can withstand moderate stress scenarios of lower energy production, higher O&M cost, plant unavailability and panel degradation.
UiTM Solar 2 is required to maintain a minimum required balance in its finance service reserve account (FSRA) of the next six-months’ profit payments and principal repayments as well as a minimum post-distribution FSCR of 1.5x; this requirement mitigates risk of debt service shortfalls.
The stable outlook assumes that during the operational phase, UiTM Solar 2’s solar power project will operate within expectations and meet its projected cash flow metrics.