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United States

Purchase action to back the words -- Beyond Petroleum

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BP Alternative Energy's plans for accelerating its wind power push into North America became clearer with the announcement last month of a $98 million deal to buy Greenlight Energy, a Virginia-based wind project developer. Greenlight, founded in 2000, owns the rights to develop 39 wind projects in 15 states with a total potential generating capacity of 6.5 GW. So far it has completed just one project, the 150 MW Elk River facility in Kansas, in late 2004.

Among Greenlight's pending projects, the 300 MW Cedar Creek development in northern Colorado is projected for 2007 completion and includes a power purchase agreement with Public Service Company of Colorado, an Xcel Energy subsidiary. Greenlight also has plans for a pair of upcoming North Dakota projects: the 225 MW Northern Plains Windfarm and the 150 MW Pembina Windfarm.

"We won't be talking about any specific projects until we get a little farther along," says BP's Sarah Howell. "But it's exciting because we're starting to see our commitment to wind taking shape. Between this and Clipper, it gives us a really good start in the US wind industry." In July, BP announced a five-year, multimillion dollar development and turbine supply deal with California-based Clipper Windpower.

Makes sense

"Buying companies like Greenlight and working with companies like Clipper makes sense for us because they both have projects already under way and it should really lead to rapid growth," says Howell. "We're looking at this globally but our focus is on the US."

Greenlight employs about 20 people and is expected to keep its headquarters in Charlottesville. Howell notes that Greenlight's top management has left the company. "But we hope the rest of the employees will stay on," she says. Greenlight is referring all inquiries to BP. In a statement released by BP, the company's Matthew Hantzmon says: "Greenlight went through a rigorous process to find a strategic partner that would enable the company to accelerate the development of projects in our pipeline. The strategic mandate of BP Alternative Energy is a perfect fit to scale up our business and enable the build-out of Greenlight's portfolio."

BP, which these days stands for Beyond Petroleum not British Petroleum, is one of the world's largest energy companies. It has interests in more than 100 countries and more than 96,000 employees. BP Alternative Energy, formed in 2005, has worldwide plans to invest about $8 billion in renewables in the next decade. In addition to North America, the company has an active wind development portfolio in Europe and Asia.

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