Remember BP, the wind power company? It is easy to focus on a certain event in the Gulf of Mexico almost three years ago, but the global energy titan has a thriving wind energy business, too. Add the incentives for clean energy projects here in the U.S., and BP and other large firms are investing in wind turbines across the country. Partnering with Sempra US Gas, BP has flipped the switch on two new wind farms in Pennsylvania and Kansas–just two weeks after the companies powered up a wind farm in Hawaii. Meanwhile the energy giant is dabbling in other alternative energies, including biofuels.
The latest BP joint ventures with Sempra will generate over 500 megawatts (MW) of electricity across six U.S. states.
Last week BP and Sempra announced that the Flat Ridge 2 Wind Farm in rural south central Kansas became fully operational. BP describes the project as the “largest, single build wind farm in the history of the US wind industry” and touts the 500 construction jobs the project created at its peak of construction. The power Flat Ridge 2 will generate is under a long term project to provide electricity to Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. Over 140,000 American homes will benefit from the 294 GE turbines that will create 470 MW of power. The total investment, in which BP is a 50/50 partner with Sempra, was over $800 million. So T. Boone Pickens’ plan to turn the middle of the U.S. into a big wind power plant is slowly becoming the reality after all–just not with his involvement.
1400 miles to the northeast, another BP-Sempra wind project launched on Tuesday outside of Scranton. The $250 million Mehoopany Wind Farm promises to generate 141 MW of electricity. Utilities in Virginia, Delaware and Maryland have agreed to long term power purchase agreements with the Mehoopany project under an arrangement arranged with the assistance of the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO). Together with the Flat Ridge 2 project, BP’s and Sempra’s combined investment in the two wind farms is over $1 billion.
So despite the natural gas boom and occasional controversies over wind power projects, energy companies and utilities still see wind as a viable business. Consumers want it, and wind even survived the “fiscal cliff” deal. Even Apple is interested in wind; so 2013 could yet prove to be a big year for wind power.
Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).
Image credit: NRCO