Intelligent Energy

Warren Buffett increases wind energy bet

Warren Buffett increases wind energy bet

Posting in Energy

This latest round of projects will solidify the Berkshire Hathaway-owned energy company's wind power ranking.

Warren Buffett's energy company MidAmerican Energy Holdings will build 176 turbines in Iowa by the end of the year, an investment that will push its wind power capacity to 2,284 megawatts, the most of any investor-owned U.S. utility.

Today's announcement comes a year after MidAmerican Energy -- a unit of Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) -- helped lift the wind industry out of stagnation with plans to build 258 turbines in Iowa, which would add 593.4 megawatts of capacity. Those wind-generation projects were completed at the end of 2011.

In 2009, MidAmerican Energy received approval from the Iowa Utilities Board to add up to 1,001 megawatts of wind-powered generation prior to 2013. This latest round of projects is part of that approval, the company said.

The 176 turbines will be spread across three projects. MidAmerican agreed to buy a 103.5-megawatt wind project from RPM Access; and acquire the 200.1-megawatt Eclipse wind farm and the 101.2-megawatt Morning Light project from Clipper Windpower Development Company.

MidAmerican Energy's renewable energy of choice has traditionally been wind. The company began investing and building wind-generation projects eight years ago. Once these latest projects are complete, the power company will have invested about $4 billion in wind power in Iowa.

The company has recently shown an interest -- and a willingness to invest -- in solar as well. The company announced last month an agreement to buy First Solar's 550-megawatt Topaz project in San Luis Obispo County in California.

Photo: Flickr user Stephan Ulhmann, CC 2.0

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Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure