Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Berkshire Hathaway Subsidiary Gives Siemens Largest Onshore Wind Turbine Order (BRK.B; SI)

The largest for Siemens USA that is.
 Boone Pickens' order for 667 turbines from GE was larger but it now appears that he wasn't all that serious about wind, unlike Mr. Buffett's David Sokol.
The key point to know about MidAmerican Energy is how vociferously they dislike cap-and-trade while putting together the largest utility-owned alt-energy asset pool in the country. Links below.
First up Bloomberg for the overview:
Buffett’s Energy Unit Orders 258 Siemens Wind Turbines
MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., the power unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., will expand wind-generation capacity by purchasing 258 turbines from Siemens AG and acquiring a project under development in Iowa.

The turbines will be located in five Iowa counties next year and have a combined capacity of 593 megawatts, enough power for 190,000 homes, MidAmerican said today in a statement on its website. Fifty-two of the turbines will be at the Laurel Wind Project, a planned facility about 50 miles northeast of the state capital of Des Moines that MidAmerican will buy from RPM Access, according to the statement. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.

MidAmerican, which Berkshire bought in 2000, sells electricity in the Great Plains and the U.S. West and operates a pipeline that transports natural gas from Wyoming to California. Siemens will manufacture the turbines at its factories in Fort Madison, Iowa, and Hutchinson, Kansas, the Munich-based company said in a separate statement....MORE
The Bloomberg story quoted a spokeswoman for MidAm as saying that alt would account for "around a quarter" of the company's generation capacity, it is actually 1,284.3 megawatts of wind generation or 26%.
Pacificorp has substantial hydro assets although they will be tearing down some Klamath river dams so the salmon can frolic.

The brains of the turbines, the nacelles, will be produced in Hutchinson Kansas at a plant which opened Dec. 3.

I've often wondered why Kansas didn't do more turbine manufacturing, a quick look at the history of aviation in the state is an eye-opener and to this day Cessna makes Wichita the largest manufacturing center for private aircraft in the country.
That said the blades are being manufactured in Iowa.
Another interesting point about MidAmerican is that despite the push on wind they haven't raised base electricity rates for their Iowa customers since 1995.
These are some of the smartest operators in the industry.
As I said in "Who Cares What Warren Buffett Thinks About Global Warming? (BRK.A)":
Mr. Buffett is known in the popular media for his personal net worth. Just as mind-boggling is his company's position in both energy and insurance, at first glance on opposite sides of the green fence but actually a self contained hedge.
MidAmerican produces power with coal, natural gas and wind. The natural gas pipes* are National Critical Infrastructure.

The highest possible ratings the agencies give to the reinsurance operations (and Warren's disinclination toward silly pricing) allow them to pick and choose when they will make available their monstrous capacity. At a price. Remember why Allstate was going to raise Florida premiums 42% last month?
Global Warming.

What Warren hath wrought: Heads I win, tails I win, if it lands on its edge I win, if gravity is momentarily suspended I win. Genius.

Here are some prior posts on MidAmerican, cap-and-trade, the Warren and Charlie show and Siemens, for more use the 'search blog' box:
Berkshire Hathaway's Munger on Cap-and-Trade ("Monstrously Stupid Right Now...Almost Demented"); Warren and Charlie on Wind and Solar (BRK.A)
Berkshire Hathaway's MidAmerican Energy on Waxman-Markey: "We Don't Much Care For It" (BRK.A)