Carlos A. Riva

    Carlos Riva's fledgling company InterGen has taken on the world-literally -emerging as a preeminent international power company specializing in greenfield development. Within its first three years, InterGen established itself as a competitive force, notable for its brand of entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, and efficiency to market that earned them the industry lead in greenfield development deals closed in 1997.

    Now in its fourth year, InterGen has come of age. Their global portfolio currently boasts six projects, totaling 3,645 MW, either operating or under construction in Europe, Asia, and South America; another six projects, representing 5,930 MW, in advanced stages of development; and dozens more in preliminary stages of interest or development.

    Founded in 1995 with Bechtel Enterprise's and PG&E's purchase of the power development firm J. Makowski Company, InterGen has its roots-as does former J. Makowski President and CEO, Carlos Riva-firmly planted in development. "Our origin has been a very important element of our success," says Riva. Even with Shell's 1997 buyout of PG&E's share of InterGen, Riva has managed to strike an unlikely balance between maintaining the characteristic flexibility and innovation in fuels of InterGen's development culture; and leveraging the technical and financial resources, expertise, and global market presence of its more inured shareholders, Bechtel and Shell.

    Unlike the large number of independent power producers that have grown out of electric power or fuel companies, InterGen belongs to a more select group, born of the development business. "As developers, I think we tend to have a highly adapted corporate culture that rewards risk-taking, innovation, and hard work," says Riva-and doesn't limit "imagination or peoples' potential for achievement."

    "We were very fortunate in the forming of InterGen to have gotten shareholders that had the financial resources to fund us and to launch us overseas, as well as having enough experience in companies such as ours to really let us get on and do our jobs the way we needed to," asserts Riva. They have "let us develop and maintain our own corporate culture and identity-distinct from our shareholders-which I think has been another important element our success thus far."

    In terms of InterGen's strategy and strengths, Riva has always been a proponent of trying to get as close to the market as possible. "Even though we are headquartered in Boston, we've deployed the people who are doing the deals out in the markets-in the regions and in the actual countries of business." In fact, from its many offices, InterGen is ideally positioned to serve clients in the European, African, Middle Eastern, Asian, Pacific, and Latin American markets. As feasibility allows, InterGen also looks to local investors. "I think it's very desirable to bring local equity into your deals wherever possible," says Riva. "Although, from a development standpoint," he admits, "it's more our practice to try to get projects developed with more InterGen control and maybe less local participation, and then look to add more local participation at some point after closing."

    On the other side of the equation, Riva has always been a very firm believer in the need to highlight the importance of fuel and fuel transportation in the development of any deal. "This is an old Makowski prejudice that is captured by the phrase "Walking in through the fuel door of the project," quips Riva. With the largest single cost of a kilowatt hour representing fuel/fuel transportation, a key element of InterGen's strategy has thus been to commit a lot of time and effort trying to innovate in fuels as a way to gain competitive advantage. "And now with Shell as a major shareholder," he says, "that whole dimension of our strategy is greatly enhanced."

    Medium term, Riva says he is keen to do more in China, Thailand, and Taiwan, although he admits that the time frame for that may now be a bit more protracted. "We intend to stay the course in Asia," he asserts. "And when some of the those markets that were hit the hardest start to come back, InterGen wants to be there to participate. It is the nature of our business that we make long-term investments, and to the extent that you are confronted with volatility, economic or political, then you have to protect yourself accordingly and manage those risks."