Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Berkshire Buys $2 Billion Power Project in Buffett Solar Bet" (BRK.B; FSLR)

Back in May 2009 we posted "Berkshire Hathaway's Munger on Cap-and-Trade ("Monstrously Stupid Right Now...Almost Demented"); Warren and Charlie on Wind and Solar (BRK.A)" which has his comment on cap-and-trade (he's against it) and the partners thought on alt energy. Here's Charlie during the Q&A:
...Munger says the closer he moves to death the more cheerful he feels about the world's potential. Munger says harnessing the sun's power and changing sea water to fresh, other changes are for the better. Munger says he sees very good things for the future, including enough energy generation to solve a lot of other problems along with it....
Here's "Warren Buffett on Cap-and-Trade (BRK.A)", he's against it too.

Berkshire's MidAmerican Energy division has the largest fleet (nameplate capacity) of wind turbines among the regulated utilities, a fact that seems to escape a lot of hard-left commentators, Here's a post from January 2010:
That's the Last Time I Look to 'Rolling Stone' for Climate; Investing Advice: "The Climate Killers: #1 Warren Buffett" (BRK.A; BRK.B)

What a bunch of moron poseurs.
From the link in our August '07 post "Jann Wenner Eco-Hypocrite; Rolling Stone, Right on Ethanol" on Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner:

Wenner's Gulfstream jet has an optimal cruising speed of around 493 nautical miles per hour. (That figure, and the ones that follow, are based on calculations for a Gulfstream IIB, Wenner's longtime ride. In fact, according to sources, these days he may fly the slightly larger Gulfstream IV; a Wenner spokesman did not reply to calls for comment.)
...I thought this was an insightful quote ..."Lending out the jet is a huge part of Jann's starfucking," says an insider. "It's half the reason he has the plane." says an insider.
and included it in our last post on Mr. Wenner.

This seemed downright silly:
"And Wenner isn't much better when he's in town, where he has a chauffeured Mercedes to shuttle him the 15 blocks or so between his apartment and his office. Even more wasteful is his lunch routine: a private chef prepares his meal at home, then staffers drive it down to the office, don black-and-white uniforms, and serve it to him on his personal china. "It's like a scene from Gosford Park,"...
For some reason I'm reminded of the quote attributed to G.B. Shaw:

"We've already established what you are, ma'am. Now we're just haggling over the price"
Here's Rolling Stone on Warren Buffett, I'll have a comment at the end of it.

Meet the 17 polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb global warming

Page 1 of 16 The Profiteer Warren Buffett CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
Despite being a key adviser to Obama during the financial crisis, America's best-known investor has been blasting the president's push to curb global warming — using the same lying points promoted by far-right Republicans. The climate bill passed by the House, Buffett insists, is a "huge tax — and there's no sense calling it anything else." What's more, he says, the measure would mean "very poor people are going to pay a lot more money for their electricity." Never mind that the climate bill, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, would actually save Americans with the lowest incomes about $40 a year.

But Buffett, whose investments have the power to move entire markets, is doing far more than bad-mouthing climate legislation — he's literally banking on its failure. In recent months, the Oracle of Omaha has invested billions in carbon-polluting industries, seeking to cash in as the world burns. His conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, has added 1.28 million shares of America's biggest climate polluter, ExxonMobil, to its balance sheet. And in November, Berkshire placed a huge wager on the future of coal pollution, purchasing the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad for $26 billion — the largest acquisition of Buffett's storied career. BNSF is the nation's top hauler of coal, shipping some 300 million tons a year. That's enough to light up 10 percent of the nation's homes — many of which are powered by another Berkshire subsidiary, MidAmerican Energy. Although Berkshire is the largest U.S. firm not to disclose its carbon pollution — and second globally only to the Bank of China — its utilities have the worst emissions intensity in America, belching more than 65 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2008 alone.

As a savvy investor, Buffett would only buy a coal-shipping railroad if he felt certain that Congress will fail to crack down on climate pollution. "Whatever hurts coal also hurts the railroad business," observes Peter Gray, a corporate climate attorney at the international law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge. "Mr. Buffett must believe that efforts to adopt cap-and-trade legislation will fail."...MORE

Finally, the headline story from Bloomberg:
Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings utility agreed to buy the $2 billion Topaz project in southern California, branching into solar power after the industry was battered by stock markets around the world.

The Topaz Solar Farm will be one of the world’s largest photovoltaic power plants and is being developed by the seller, First Solar Inc. (FSLR) of Tempe, Arizona, according to a joint statement today. Terms weren’t disclosed. The project’s 550- megawatt capacity is equal to about half a new nuclear reactor.

Buffett’s Iowa-based utility, which entered clean energy buying U.S. wind farms and a stake in Chinese electric-car producer BYD Co., struck today’s deal after First Solar failed to get a U.S. government loan guarantee for the project that will use First Solar’s thin-film solar panels.

Topaz “demonstrates that solar energy is a commercially viable technology without the support of governmental loan guarantees,” said Greg Abel, chief executive officer of the MidAmerican business at Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), in the statement. The utility will seek to add more assets of this type to its unregulated portfolio, he said.

Tax benefits may have helped attract the billionaire, according to Jefferies International Ltd.
“The reason for the move from wind to solar is very simple,” Gerard Reid, a London-based analyst at Jefferies, said in an interview. “Tax credits for wind in the U.S. expire at the end of next year, while solar ones run till 2015.”...MORE
So there you go Mr. Wenner.

March 2, 2009 
First Solar Buys OptiSolar Projects to Expand in U.S. (FSLR)

June 1, 2009 
First Solar May Not Have Optisolar's Desert "Land Rights" (FSLR)

June 2, 2009 
More on the First Solar/OptiSolar Land Deal (FSLR)