News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

BP Can't Find Buyer For U.S. Wind Division

In earlier days, BP flogged its interest in wind at London petrol stations | Photo: Todd Huffman/Flickr/Creative Commons License

The company responsible for the worst oil spill in U.S. history says it can't get an adequate offer for its U.S. wind arm. After attempting to sell off its wind power holdings in the United States for some months, the British oil giant BP has given up on the sale.

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BP had announced in April it was looking for a buyer for its 15 U.S. wind facilities, which included the 20-megawatt Edom Hills installation in Riverside County's San Gorgonio Pass. But in a July 25 email to SNL Financial's Michael Copley, BP press officer Matt Hartwig hinted that the company just couldn't get a sweet enough offer to make a sale worth the company's while. "Despite receiving a number of bids, the company has determined that now is not the right time to sell the business. Our focus will remain on safely maximizing the financial and operational performance of the existing assets," said Hartwig.

In April, speculation was rife that BP was trying to raise cash to pay off fines and settlements stemming from the 2010 Macondo/Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, an environmental disaster still wreaking havoc on the Gulf and its human neighbors. At about 2,600 megawatts though, the company's total U.S. wind holdings have been appraised at about $1.5 billion: a large chunk of change, but only a small percentage of the upwards of $42 billion the company has paid out in relation to the disaster, including a record $4.5 billion in fines imposed by the Justice Department.

BP has stated it doesn't need to sell the wind division to cover costs of the Deepwater Horizon spill.

The decision is not yet reflected on BP Alternative Energy's website, which was revamped in April to focus on the company's continuing investment in biofuels. Nonetheless, BP's wind portfolio grew by almost 20 percent in the weeks before its announcement, as it received a the go-ahead from the Interior Department to build the 500-megawatt Mohave County Wind Farm near the mouth of the Grand Canyon in northwestern Arizona on June 28.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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