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How the West was won by Warren Buffett


From the January 30, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published January 30, 2014

The West has a new sheriff in town, said Jim Pope, general manager of the Northern California Power Agency: it’s Warren Buffett.

Buffett’s company, MidAmerican Energy Holdings, is a big player in the energy markets of the West, according to an article in Public Power magazine.

MidAmerican Energy has cornered the market for wind energy in Iowa, with some 2,300 MW of capacity in the state. To deliver that energy to customers in Iowa and beyond, MidAmerican Energy joined MISO―the Midcontinent Independent Transmission System Operator―in 2009 as a transmission owner.

Membership in MISO has enabled MidAmerican to send wind energy from the Great Plains to the East. With its purchase of PacifiCorp and, most recently, NV Energy, MidAmerican will have the means to move wind energy in the West. 

PacifiCorp owns and operates one of the largest privately held transmission systems in the country, with more than 16,000 miles of lines. The utility’s Energy Gateway project between Idaho and Utah will add roughly 2,000 miles to its system in the West. 

"Warren Buffett is moving into the market in the West," Pope said. "Buying NV Energy gives him a transmission network that spans seven states. When Buffett buys assets, he takes control over how they function, their business plans and how they grow."

The network gives MidAmerican―through PacifiCorp and NV Energy―an "incredible capacity for trading energy" into and out of California, Pope said.

And therein lies the motive for an energy imbalance market.

Read more about Buffett’s agenda in the West in, "What Warren Buffet Wants,"on publicpower.org.

Subscriptions to the electronic and print editions of Public Power and all other APPA periodicals are free to all employees and governing board members of APPA member utilities and associate members. An online subscription signup form is on publicpower.org.
 

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