Back to petroleum: BP to get out of the wind power business

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

It looks like the oil company BP, known for its slogan “beyond petroleum,” is going back to petroleum and selling off its wind business.

After years of touting its wind power operations, BP is getting out of wind “as part of a continuing effort to become a more focused oil and gas company and reposition the company for sustainable growth into the future,” spokesman Matt Hartwig wrote in an email to FuelFix.com.

FuelFix reports that the company shut down its 40-year-old solar business due to a lack of profitability.

“What a shocker? BP recognizes that investments in wind energy are increasingly unwise,” Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email. “Without huge government subsidies and strict mandates, wind energy cannot survive.”

“Popular support for billion dollar giveaways to wind industry is fading, and states are reconsidering the mandates,” he added. “BP can read the writing on the wall and is making a market-based decision.”

Tightening budgets and a slow economic recovery has government support for renewable energy under fire. States across the country are aiming to scale back or eliminate laws that require certain amounts of power be purchased from renewable energy sources, including wind.

“The effect of the mandate is higher electricity prices,” said Jon Sanders, director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, in regards to efforts to repeal North Carolina’s renewable energy mandate. “It’s a tax on rate payers.”

North Carolina is one of several states — including Ohio, Michigan, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, and Wisconsin — where renewable energy mandates are being aggressively fought.

”At least 22 of the 29 state renewables standards have been attacked by legislators or regulators in the last year,” wrote GreentechMedia’s Herman Trabish.

“Wind continues to be a great investment for BP and for America,” said Ellen Carey, media relations manager at the American Wind Energy Association. “These turbines are still operating and will for many years to come, producing clean, affordable, homegrown wind energy.”

FuelFix reports that BP has interests in 16 wind farms across nine states capable of generating a total of 2,600 megawatts of power. BP also has 2,000 megawatts of wind power projects in the development phase.

However, BP noted that their departure from wind doesn’t mean the company is completely out of the alternative energy business. BP still produces ethanol in Brazil and the United Kingdom, and is also conducting biofuel research in the United States.

“This is not an exit from alternative energy,” wrote Hartwig.

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