Exelon, the nuclear giant that recently backed away from building new nuclear plants, is moving into wind.
The company announced on Wednesday that it was buying John Deere Renewables, which has 735 megawatts in operation and 230 megawatts in “advanced stages of development” in Michigan. The price was $860 million, plus $40 million if ground is broken on the Michigan projects.
In March, Exelon withdrew its application for a construction and operating license for a twin-unit nuclear plant in Victoria County, Tex., citing lower projections for electric demand because of the recession. It had stopped work on the application last year. Instead, it asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for preapproval of the site, which would speed up the approval process if it decided later that it wanted to build. But the decision left the country’s largest nuclear operator without a direct role in what the nuclear industry hopes is a renaissance.
But the company says it is sticking by its commitment two years ago to cut its carbon dioxide output in 2020 by 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases. That would be more than its total emissions in 2001, the company said.
The purchase will instantly make Exelon one of the nation’s largest wind operators.
John Rowe, the chief executive, who has been urging Congress to pass climate change legislation, said in a statement that the purchase was “one more way to implement a clean energy future.” The prospects for that legislation are unclear, and the Environmental Protection Agency may simply order carbon emission reductions. Mr. Rowe said, “Whether harmful emissions are priced or regulated, our combined capacity of nearly 19,000 megawatts of zero-emission wind, solar, hydro, landfill gas and nuclear power remains a clear competitive advantage that will only become more valuable.”By MATTHEW L. WALD/NYT