No longer a conventional utility company with a penchant for renewables, Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings has created a new stand-alone firm to sell wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric power into the unregulated energy market. The announcement last week by Des Moines, Iowa-based MidAmerican follows a recent flurry of investment in renewable energy projects, including a handful of wind farms in Iowa and Illinois and two large solar projects in the desert Southwest (ClimateWire, Jan. 24). MidAmerican is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the investment firm backed by Buffett’s estimated $39 billion in personal wealth.
“Governors are making significant progress in developing new transmission that helps diversify our nation’s energy portfolio and support economic growth and job creation,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. “Through new and creative ways to expedite the planning and construction of electric transmission lines, and by working more closely together, states can help continue that progress and achieve economic success in the future.”
One of the world’s windiest spots — the Isthmus of Tehuantapec in Mexico — is attracting a “wind rush” as alternative energy companies are rushing to acquire land there for wind farms.The isthmus is so windy that, at times, it is powerful enough to prop up a person who is leaning against it. Gales roar through at an average of 19 mph
Just days before a White House-appointed auditor is set to deliver a report on the Department of Energy’s troubled loan guarantee program, another of the department’s stimulus-funded endeavors made headlines this week at a particularly bad time for the Obama administration. Ener1 Inc. — which received more than $118 million in the form of a DOE grant to make electric-car batteries — filed for bankruptcy yesterday. The announcement threatened to undermine the administration’s offensive on its investments in renewable energy.
Despite skepticism about the viability of solar-component and electric-car battery companies that have gone bankrupt recently, Illinois is proving that firms can create jobs and help the environment with wind turbines and wind farms, alternative-power advocates said Thursday. In 2011, Illinois topped the nation in the number of new wind turbines installed here — 404 — and ranked No. 2 behind California in the total amount of the turbines’ power capacity , according to a report by the American Wind Energy Association.
When President Obama focused heavily on energy issues in his State of the Union address earlier this week, he echoed themes many governors have been pushing forward in their annual “state of the state” speeches this month. Governors from resource-rich states like Alaska, Virginia, West Virginia and Colorado all have devoted substantial sections of their annual addresses to traditional energy this month. The governors — both Democrats and Republicans — have called for increases in traditional and renewable energy development, and many have taken jabs at the federal government for stifling development.
Just how much natural gas is trapped underground in the United States? The difficulty and uncertainty in predicting natural gas resources was underscored last week when the Energy Information Administration released a report containing sharply lower estimates.
The top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday said she sees a bumpy road for passing a clean energy standard this session. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also blamed the president for failing to actively promote his proposal to generate up to 80 percent of the country’s electricity from low-carbon sources by 2035, despite calling for it in his past two State of the Union speeches.
Gov. Matt Mead says he’s given up hope that the Wyoming Legislature this year will roll back state tax increases on wind energy production and construction of wind energy projects. Wyoming began imposing a $1 per megawatt hour tax on wind energy production in January. This month, the state also began imposing sales and use taxes that generally exceed 5 percent on equipment used on wind energy projects.
A Michigan factory that made luxury yachts before the recession and diversified to add wind energy products when times got tough was touted by President Barack Obama at his State of the Union Address as an example of an industry creating forward-thinking jobs — with a little help from the government.