MetLife, GE Team Up To Provide $247 Million To Kansas Wind Farm

MetLife and an arm of General Electric that finances energy projects have teamed up for the second time this year as investors in a major wind farm in the Great Plains.

This time, GE Energy Financial Services and MetLife Inc. joined Union Bank to invest $247 million in a wind farm near Wichita, Kan. The Post Rock wind farm has been up and running since Nov. 14, developed by Wind Capital Group. The 22,900-acre wind-energy farm is about 80 miles outside Wichita, in Ellsworth and Lincoln counties.

This was an equity transaction, meaning the investors bought a stake in the wind farm as opposed to financing debt. The investors would not provide additional details about the financing.

The 201-megawatt Post Rock facility has 134 wind turbines churning enough electricity to power more than 70,000 homes. The electricity is sold to Westaro Energy, the largest electric utility in Kansas. The wind turbines are made by General Electric, and each is a 1.5 megawatt windmill with blades that swing around in a 271-foot-diameter circle. General Electric also provides operation and maintenance services for the Post Rock facility.

Steven J. Goulart, chief investment officer of MetLife, said in a prepared statement, “We are proud to support endeavors like Post Rock, which align with MetLife’s overall high-quality investment approach and build upon the more than $2.5 billion we’ve already invested in renewable energy projects.”

The Kansas wind farm is similar in energy production to one in central Oklahoma where MetLife, GE Energy Financial Services and other investors announced a combined $220 million in investment in June.

The 235-Megawatt Oklahoma facility, called Chisholm View Wind project, involves 140 wind turbines across 45,000 acres.

A federal tax credit for companies that invest in wind energy has helped drive record level of wind-turbine installations this year in the U.S., according to the trade group American Wind Energy Association.

The U.S. wind industry in August surpassed a 50,000-megawatt mark for total capacity of all wind farms installed. That is enough to power 13 million homes. As of Oct. 18, the industry had installed 4,728 megawatts of wind-farm electrical production with an additional 8,430 Megawatts in ongoing construction, the trade group said.

GE Energy Financial Services has about $9 billion in renewable-energy investment commitments globally, most of which is wind, out of a $20 billion overall energy investment portfolio, said GE Energy Financial Services spokesman Andy Katell.

MetLife has major operations in Bloomfield. GE Energy Financial Services, headquartered in Stamford, is part of General Electric Capital, which is headquartered in Norwalk and is part of the General Electric Co. of Fairfield.

Providence is getting three new wind turbines that will be used to power a city wastewater plant.

U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse were on hand Monday to celebrate the completion of the turbine project at the Field’s Point Wastewater Treatment Facility near the city’s waterfront.

“We’ve got to keep it up. It means environmental quality. It means the future,” Reed said. The Narragansett Bay Commission built the turbines at a cost of $14 million. Federal clean water funds were used for the project.

“This facility will reduce our carbon footprint by more than 3,000 tons and with the good Lord as our partner because he’ll make the wind blow. We should generate electricity to the extent of $1 million a year to the benefit of our ratepayers,” said Vin Mesolella of the Narragansett Bay Commission.

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