Obama blocks Chinese ownership of four Oregon wind projects

President Barack Obama blocked a Chinese company from owning four wind farm projects in northeast Oregon.

President Barack Obama blocked a Chinese company from owning four wind farm projects in northeast Oregon.

President Barack Obama on Friday blocked a Chinese company from owning four Oregon wind projects near Hermiston, citing security risks related to their proximity to a Navy base where the military flies unmanned drones and electronic-warfare planes on training missions.

The developer of the Butter Creek projects, a Chinese turbine manufacturer Sany Electronic, struck a deal in May to sell the wind farms to the Yeland Group, a Chinese real estate developer, for $38.4 million, for the latter to develop the four projects by the end of 2012, according to Windpower Intelligence.

That deal fell through and now the U.S. President is requiring Sany Electric-owned Ralls Corp. to divest its interest in the wind farms. Construction of the project was interrupted earlier this month when questions were raised about U.S. permission to move forward.

On Friday the Associated Press reported that it was the first time in 22 years that a U.S. president blocked such a foreign business deal.

In his decision, Obama ordered Ralls to divest its interest in the wind farms due to their proximity to the Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility in Boardman.

According to the Associated Press, the case reached the president's desk after the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States determined there was no way to address the national security risks posed by the Chinese company's purchases. Only the president has final authority to prohibit a transaction.

According to Windpower Monthly, the committee learned about the deal in an article in the trade publication.

Pacific Power, according a flyer about its inventory of wind energy resources, has a power purchase agreement in place to buy 4.95 megawatts of power from Butter Creek.

Obama's decision is likely to increase trade tensions between the U.S. and China, which have been strained by the ongoing spat over solar panels in addition to other issues.

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