BP Wind Energy (NYSE:BP) and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power (NYSE:SRE) announced that the Flat Ridge 2 wind farm has moved into full construction. Upon completion, it will be the largest wind energy project in the state of Kansas and a major investment in renewable energy for U.S. consumers.
The facility, located on a 66,000-acre site about 40 miles southwest of Wichita, represents a combined investment of more than $800 million and will have the capacity to produce 419 MW of electricity, enough to light more than 125,000 homes.
To mark the launch of construction, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and other state and local officials attended a ceremony in which they signed one of the massive wind blades that will be installed at the facility.
“The development of the Flat Ridge 2 wind farm is an important component to achieving energy independence and revitalizing rural Kansas,” Brownback said at the event. “We congratulate BP and Sempra U.S. Gas and Power for their innovative thinking and planning in moving this project into full construction.”
At peak construction, the Flat Ridge 2 project will create some 500 jobs. Roughly 30 permanent jobs will be created once the wind farm begins commercial operation, which is expected by the end of the year.
The companies also announced that the power from a 51 MW expansion project to be completed in 2012 has been sold under a separate long-term agreement with Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC), a Little Rock-based generation and transmission cooperative.
John Graham, president and CEO, BP Wind Energy said the project underscores the company’s commitment to domestic energy security and to the U.S. economy.
“Wind is not only a growing part of BP’s energy portfolio, it is an increasingly important provider of low-carbon electricity and a vital contributor to U.S. energy supplies,” Graham said.
“Because of the state’s leadership and natural resources, Kansas is becoming a hub for domestic wind energy production, innovation and job creation,” said Jim Sahagian, vice president of renewables for Sempra U.S. Gas & Power. “We look forward to playing a role in the continued growth of this dynamic market as we continue expanding our solar and wind energy portfolio.”
Electricity produced at Flat Ridge 2 has been sold under long-term power purchase agreements with Associated Electric Cooperative and Southwestern Electric Power Company, a unit of American Electric Power.
As previously announced, BP and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power are equal partners for 419 MW of the wind farm, and are finalizing joint venture agreements for the additional capacity.
BP will be the operator of the Flat Ridge 2 Wind Farm and expansion project when they become commercially operational.
AECC’s agreement was made possible through the efforts of the National Renewables Cooperative Organization, which enables cooperatives nationwide to pool the ownership and benefits of renewable resources. AECC is one of 24 members in 19 states.