Thursday, January 3, 2013

Warren Buffett and the Greenneck Prairiebillies Go Solar (BRK.b)

Because Berkshire owns trailer-house modular home maker Clayton Homes and because the regulated utility subsidiary MidAmerican Energy has the largest nameplate wind generation capability I thought the term Greenneck Prairiebillies would catch on.
It didn't.
A quick Google search returns 213 hits with the top seven coming from yours truly.
Should any rockabilly/fusion bands wish to use the name, all glory and honor belong to DealBreaker.

We've been documenting BRK's thoughts on green energy for a while now.
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.

MidAm's competitive advantage, besides the ultra-low cost of money that all Berkshire subs enjoy, is the ability to see which policy proposal make the most sense for them and then to lay the bet down.
Here's the latest, from the Financial Times:
Buffett gives solar a boost with $2.5bn deal

Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings has given the renewable energy industry a new year boost by agreeing to spend up to $2.5bn on what is set to be the world’s biggest solar photovoltaic operation.
The Californian investment, which is Mr Buffett’s third sizeable solar PV deal in a year, is further evidence of the steady expansion of the industry.

“It’s certainly big news,” said solar analyst Andrew Krulewitz of GTM Research, adding that the deal was the largest by capacity in the US.

He said that although there had been a lot of publicity surrounding the failure of prominent US solar companies such as Solyndra, solar power installations had kept growing regardless.

About 1.8 gigawatts of solar power was installed in the US in 2011, Mr Krulewitz said, with the final figures for 2012 expected to be about 3.2GW.

MidAmerican said it would buy two solar projects with a combined generating capacity of 579 megawatts in California’s Antelope Valley from San Jose-based SunPower. Construction was due to be finished by the end of 2015.

Although some solar industry subsidies recently expired, a number of significant financial support schemes have remained, including one investment tax credit programme not due to end until 2016....MORE
"Why Warren Buffett Is Wrong About Cap and Trade: Eric Pooley" (BRK.A)
Gore, Buffett Take Sides in Tug-of-War Over Climate Change Bill (BRK.A)
"Berkshire Buys $2 Billion Power Project in Buffett Solar Bet" (BRK.B; FSLR)