BP, Sempra to invest $1B in wind farms

While BP dismantles its unprofitable solar business, the oil company has upped its investment in wind energy.

BP is dismantling its solar business . But that doesn't mean the oil company has turned its back on all of its renewable energy interests. BP Wind Energy and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power announced this week plans to investment more than $1 billion to develop wind farms in Kansas and Pennsylvania.

Both projects will use GE wind turbines and are expected to be in commercial operation by the end of the year. In fact, they'll have to be if the wind power developers hope to secure tax credits expected to expire at the end of 2012.

Construction on the Mehoopany Wind Farm in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania began in November 2011 and will generate 141megawatts of energy once completed. Old Dominion Electric Cooperative and Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative have secured contracts to buy power from the wind farm.

The considerably larger Flat Ridge 2 Wind Farm will be built on a 66,000-acre site southwest of Wichita, Kansas. The 419-MW project will use 262 GE wind turbines. Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. and Southwestern Electric Power Company, a unit of American Electric Power have contracts to buy power from Flat Ridge. A third, currently unnamed utility also has secured a contract, according to an announcement.

BP owns and operates 13 wind farms. The company will be the operator of the Flat Ridge and Mehoopany projects as well.  While the company continues to invest in wind, it's exiting solar. Last month, BP Solar announced it would shut down its 40-year-old business because it's no longer profitable. Signs of BP Solar’s demise began in early 2009 when the company decided to stop most of its manufacturing. At the time, the company closed several of its factories in Spain and cut 480 jobs after the once-booming Spanish solar market cracked as the government pulled back its generous incentives. BP decided in July to stop manufacturing entirely and centered its efforts on developing large projects.

Photo: Flickr user Jeff Kubina, CC 2.0

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com