Warren Buffett Moves Out of Wind, into Solar

Warren Buffett’s energy company, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., the Iowa-based owner of utilities, wind farms and conventional power plants, made a strong push into solar this past December. That’s according to Bloomberg.

In early December, it bought a $2 billion California solar farm from First Solar, constituting its first-ever solar investment, according to the Wall Street Journal. The solar project, called Topaz, is a 550-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant being built in San Luis Obispo County, California.

Then, just two weeks later, it bought 49% of a $1.8 billion Arizona solar power plant from NRG Energy Inc., named Agua Caliente, which is being built by First Solar Inc., according to the Journal.  First Solar and NRG obtained a $967 million government loan guarantee in August for the 290-megawatt project.

Both the Topaz and Agua Caliente solar projects have long-term power purchase agreements with Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), says the WSJ.

MidAmerican previously entered the clean energy sector by buying U.S.wind farms and a stake in Chinese electric car producer BYD Co., according to Bloomberg.  MidAmerican CEO Greg Abel says its goal is to “aggressively [pursue] opportunities to expand our presence in the renewable energy sector.”

According to Jefferies Group analyst Gerard Reid, this move into solar from wind is primarily due to the availability of solar tax credits, which run until 2015, versus wind tax credits that expire next year, the Bloomberg article says.

MidAmerican is controlled by Berkshire Hathaway, whose earnings from the utilities and energy business were $888 million in the nine months ending Sept. 30, an increase of 13 percent from the same period last year.

To read the full article by Bloomberg  cited in this story, click here

Tags: Fundings , Solar

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