Buffett's utility votes for renewable energy

The electric utility owned by one of America's best-known investors, a man noted for his thoughtful view of investment fundamentals, is planning a systematic organizational push into wind and other renewable forms of energy.

MidAmerican Energy, owned by Warren Buffett (known as the "Sage of Omaha" for his investment prowess), said this week that it will set up a new unregulated subsidiary to invest in wind, solar, geothermal and hydro projects.

Of particular note were the comments of two senior MidAmerican officials regarding the new subsidiary.  Greg Abel, the utility's chairman, president and CEO, said, "We look forward to expanding our wind, geothermal, solar and hydro portfolio.  We believe the need for renewable energy will continue to grow."  Jonathan Weisgall, MidAmerican's Vice President for Federal Policy, added, "This is a vote for renewable energy.  It is not a bet."

MidAmerican's decision is a clear reminder that the fundamentals of wind power are very strong.

Wind power delivers clean energy at an affordable and stable long-term price, saving consumers money and protecting them from fuel price volatility, while creating new domestic manufacturing jobs and revitalizing rural communities.  That's a hard combination to beat.

With wind today, we are seeing a virtuous circle–developing more wind farms is leading to more demand for turbines and turbine parts, spurring the development of a new manufacturing industry, creating new jobs, and fostering increased competition, which results in lower costs. That virtuous circle began with a key federal incentive, the Production Tax Credit (PTC).  The PTC is scheduled to expire at the end of this year and should be extended by Congress as soon as possible to avoid an unnecessary, job-killing tax increase on a growing industry that has been one of the few sources of new manufacturing jobs.

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