When Warren Buffet invests, people listen. Maybe it’s because he’s one of the most successful investors of all time, or maybe it’s because he has a knack for seeing the next big thing, maybe it’s just because people love a good Buffet. Whatever the reason, people are taking note of his newest move – investing $1.9 billion in a new wind farm project in Iowa.
The investment was actually made by MidAmerican Energy Company, a member of the Berkshire group owned by Buffet. It really doesn’t matter what corporate name it comes under, it’s what is going to happen that is the real news. MidAmerican will be installing 656 new wind turbines to go along with the 1,267 that they already run. This will increase the power generation potential over 1,000 megawatts, allowing them to shut down 5 coal burning plants in the state.
By reducing the amount of coal usage, the company expects to be able to reduce energy rates over $10 million annually when the turbines are fully operational in 2017. In addition to the utility savings, MidAmerican will be stimulating the Iowa economy by bringing in 460 construction jobs and 48 permanent jobs at the site (it will also provide the state over $360 million in property taxes over the next 30 years).
Wind power is nothing new to Iowa; in fact they lead the nation with almost 25% of all of their power coming from wind generation n 2012. Mid American is the single largest provider in the state with over 3,300 megawatts generated annually.
Warren Buffet is no newcomer to the renewable energy game. His investment group has poured over $6 billion into wind energy alone, with another $2 billion invested in solar power in California. His devotion to cleaning up energy generation has been at the forefront of his investment strategy since 2009. It was launched with an op-ed that he authored for the New York Times that same year, in which he stated, “In nature, every action has consequences, a phenomenon called the butterfly effect. These consequences, moreover, are not necessarily proportional. For example, doubling the carbon dioxide we belch into the atmosphere may far more than double the subsequent problems for society. Realizing this, the world properly worries about greenhouse emissions.”
What does this mean for the national push for green energy? Well, it means that we have one of the greatest investing minds of the 20th century putting a boatload of cash into it. This should be a sign that not only is alternative energy achievable, but possibly a highly profitable market.
What do you think? Is Warren Buffet the green energy messiah we’ve been waiting for? The one who can take the abstract idea of clean energy and make it a palpable target for other major investors?