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Buffett Takes On Solar

Most of the time, solar energy and solar power are surrounded by competing interests, and competing sources of investment.

As a result, many believe the government, be it state or federal, bears some responsibility in easing the financial burden of building or installing solar panels. On the other hand, many believe government has no place in funding solar projects unless it is on federal property.

This dichotomy in beliefs exists both at the watercooler in the office, and also on Capitol Hill.

Bypassing the differences in ideology, Warren Buffet is privately funding the world’s largest photovoltaic solar project.

Obviously Warren Buffet has the incredible wealth to do what a plethora of others cannot, but that should not detract from the message or the result of constructing the world’s largest solar power project. Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. agreed to spend as much as $2.5 billion to build two solar projects in California.

MidAmerican acquired the 579-megawatt Antelope Valley projects in Kern and Los Angelese counties from SunPower Corporation, according
to a statement issued on January 2nd. MidAmerican will pay SunPower $2 billion to $2.5 billion for the projects and a three-year contract to build them.

Buffet has been increasing investment in wind and solar farms in the past couple of years, and formed a MidAmerican unit to support the projects it has acquired. Notably, the company acquired the 550-megawatt Topaz solar farm in California for $2.4 billion. Chief Financial Officer Patrick Goodman said in November the company favors investment in renewable energy despite high utility costs.

Ultimately, the investments that Warren Buffet and his company are making in renewable energy signal both that there is a place for privately funded renewable energy projects, and from a business perspective, it is possible to make a sizable profit from renewable energy despite varying utility costs.

The federal government could ease the burden of high utility costs for installers and consumers for their renewable energy systems, but it is entirely possible for private ventures to succeed.

Also, one does not need to be one of the wealthiest people in the world to find success in renewable energy.

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