Exelon Grabs John Deere’s Wind Projects for $860M

And you thought John Deere was all about tractors. This morning utility Exelon (s EXC) said it will buy up the wind power division of John Deere, called John Deere Renewables, for $860 million, plus an additional $40 million once all of the projects are completed. John Deere Renewables has 965 MW of clean power projects under development in various stages.

Utility-scale wind power projects are often times the most low cost renewable energy around and Lux Research analyst Ted Sullivan told me back in July that wind power purchase agreements commonly set wind power rates around six cents a kilowatt hour for a 20-year contract, depending on location — sometimes it can be cheaper with federal subsidies. That’s pretty cheap.

Exelon says its acquisition of John Deere’s wind power projects is its first foray into owning wind and 75 percent of the wind megawatts are already contracted out via power purchase agreements. Exelon also has the opportunity to build out 1.5 gigawatts of new wind projects through the acquisition.

While this wind power deal was an attractive proposition for Exelon, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) noted recently that there were only 700 megawatts of wind power added in the second quarter of 2010 in the U.S., which was a 57 percent drop from the amount of wind installed in 2008 and a 71 percent drop from the amount of wind installed in 2009. The AWEA said that this is a sign that the U.S. is losing the wind power race to China and Europe, which have more defined and long term federal subsidies.

It doesn’t look like the U.S. will get any more clear long term subsidies for wind power any time soon. While the stimulus bill provided hundreds of millions in short term financing for clean power, a national renewable energy standard was dropped from a version of the energy bill in July, and the energy bill itself has stalled in Congress.

However, wind can still be economical in various parts of the country. On July 30, Google, via its subsidiary Google Energy, said it would start buying clean power from 114 MW of wind energy via a wind farm in Iowa owned by NextEra Energy Resources.

For more on that deal check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

The Real Reason Google Is Buying Wind Power