Nevada could be in line for more renewable energy, thanks to Warren Buffett.
Buffett leads Berkshire Hathaway, whose subsidiary MidAmerican Energy is already a huge wind power player and owner of big solar projects. Now MidAmerican is buying NV Energy, apparently opening the door to more renewable energy development for the Nevada utility.
“Importantly, we will have the opportunity to combine MidAmerican’s expertise in renewable energy with Nevada’s vast renewable resources for the benefit of our customers and our state,” NV Energy President and CEO Michael Yackira said in a statement announcing the approximately $10 billion acquisition, which breaks down as about $5.6 billion in cash and $4.7 billion in assumed debt, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In a letter to NV Energy customers, Yackira put the focus on “new, zero- and low-carbon generation options.”
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, who has been pushing NV Energy to shut down coal plants and bring more renewable energy on-line, said he was “elated” at the news.
In early May, MidAmerican proposed planting up to 656 new turbines in Iowa soil by the end of 2015, adding up to as much as 1,050 megawatts of new generating capacity. That would come on top 2,285 megawatts of capacity the company already owns and operates in the state. The company has also bought into big wind and solar projects in California and Arizona.
Despite all this, the Sierra Club said it had good reason to wait and see how MidAmerican remakes NV Energy before celebrating -- pointing particularly at MidAmerican subsidiary PacifiCorp. Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Western Regional Director Bill Corcoran issued this statement:
As promising as NV Energy’s clean energy commitments are, not all of Warren Buffett’s energy holdings are as praiseworthy. MidAmerican’s PacifiCorp runs the largest number of coal plants in the American West, operating or taking power from 26 coal plant boilers. PacifiCorp serves areas rich in renewable energy resources but recently removed planned additions of wind power from its resource plan.
PacifiCorp is falling behind other utilities in the West, trading leadership for a backward-looking insistence on spending ratepayer dollars to keep old coal plants running. NV Energy seeks a smarter path forward, and we look forward to further clean energy investments like this one by Warren Buffett and his companies. It’s time to transition dirty coal out of the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio.