Tag Archives: Berkshire Hathaway Energy

Wind Powers Berkshire into Top Spot

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With 6.751GW of wind power owned or under contract, Berkshire Hahtaway Energy has moved into the top spot for utilities generating power through wind farms.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Berkshire passed Xcel Energy in 2017 to gain the top spot.

Berkshire’s MidAmerican Energy has set a goal of getting 100% of its energy generation from renewable sources, primarily wind power.

Other Berkshire utilities have also set ambitious goals.

PacifiCorp recently selected four new wind projects that will expand the amount of wind energy produced by 2020.

PacifiCorp’s owned and contracted wind power will increase by more than 60% and will.add enough wind power for approximately 450,000 average homes.

PacifiCorp’s new wind development is part of the company’s Energy Vision 2020 initiative, which also will upgrade the company’s existing owned wind fleet in Wyoming, Washington and Oregon with longer blades and newer technology, and build a new high-voltage transmission line in Wyoming to connect the new wind energy to PacifiCorp’s grid.

“We are committed to expanding the amount of renewable energy serving our customers, and these new wind projects will help us cost-effectively further that goal,” said Stefan Bird, President and CEO of Pacific Power, the unit of PacifiCorp that serves customers in Oregon, Washington, and California.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

NV Energy Exceeds Nevada’s Renewable Energy Requirement for 8th Straight Year

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Berkshire’s Hathaway’s NV Energy achieved a 25.5 percent renewable energy and related credits level in northern Nevada and 23.1 percent in southern Nevada, for a combined weighted average of 23.8 percent.

This is the eighth year in a row that NV Energy has exceeded the state’s renewable energy requirement, which currently sits at a 20 percent level.

Separate from this legislated mandate, NV Energy has set a goal to double its renewable energy portfolio by 2023.

The most recent additions to NV Energy’s renewable energy portfolio included the 50-megawatt Boulder Solar 2 project in Eldorado Valley southeast of Las Vegas and the 179-megawatt Switch Station 1 and 2 project located in the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone north of Las Vegas.

NV Energy’s Senior Vice President of Renewable Resources Dave Ulozas noted that NV Energy has been providing renewable energy to customers since the 1980s, and the most recent renewable energy rankings by the U.S. Energy Information Administration puts Nevada second in the nation for geothermal resources and fourth for solar energy.

“We are proud to continue to help expand Nevada’s growth in clean energy, which benefits both our customers and Nevada’s strengthening economy,” Ulozas said. “We’ve been able to accomplish this while keeping electricity rates about 15 percent lower than they were nearly a decade ago, and we anticipate adding a considerable amount of new renewable energy at similar or lower rates than we have in place today.”

Currently NV Energy customers benefit from 46 separate renewable energy projects in Nevada, which include 19 geothermal plants, 16 solar fields, six hydroelectric resources, four biomass or methane gas facilities and one large wind farm.

Five additional large solar fields are being constructed or developed for NV Energy customers, which are located in both northern and southern Nevada areas.

Additionally, the company and an independent evaluator are reviewing more than 100 bids for renewable energy projects and battery-energy storage systems proposed for 26 separate sites throughout Nevada. The winning bids will be submitted for approval to the PUCN by June 1, 2018.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Special Report: Opportunities Abound for Berkshire in the Growing EV Market

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Everyone can see it coming, petrol, gas, diesel, whatever you want to call it, will play a diminishing role in fueling cars of the future. It’s already playing a diminishing role right now.

Let’s look at a few numbers.

In 2016, 750,000 EV cars were sold worldwide, with Norway the highest in market share at 29%, and China the largest in total units sold. And, 2016 marked the first time that EVs passed more than 2 million vehicles on the road worldwide.

While those numbers are still tiny when compared to the 2 billion vehicles in service around the world, they confirm that the EV is not only here to stay, but will play an ever larger role in personal and commercial transportation.

Credit Tesla with making the EV fashionable in the U.S., and drawing in other car makers that are now debuting their own models. In fact, Tesla has made the EV so fashionable among high-end buyers that in Europe Tesla’s Model S outsold both the traditional petrol-fueled BMW 7 series and Mercedes-Benz S class.

It’s easy to go down the list of carmakers that are showing off their EV vehicles at this year’s auto shows. Volkswagen, which was committed to diesel cars before its huge emissions scandal, is now touting its EV retro-styled concept bus, the I.D. Buzz. And Jaguar’s heading to market in late-2018 with its I-Pace SUV.

BMW, Hyundai, Nissan, Porsche, Toyota, and Volvo, to name a few, are all announcing new EV models or EV versions of existing models. Even Bentley has an all-electric four-door coupe in the works for 2019, and a goal to have an electric version of each of its models by 2025.

For drivers in China that purchased 600,000 EVs in 2017 at the lower-end of the market, it’s China’s BYD that led the way, with Chery, SAIC Wuling, Hawtai, and BAIC all moving more than 3,000 units in December 2017 alone.

The new energy company BYD, which Berkshire Hathaway has a roughly $1.9 billion stake in, sold almost 14,000 ev cars in February 2018, and is the global sales leader despite not being in the U.S. market except for its pure-electric buses.

Back in the U.S., Tesla’s Model 3 is aimed at bringing the company’s cars to a whole new set of consumers, and it’s not the only one making inroads at making an EV with true extended driving range affordable.

GM’s more mainstream price point Chevy Bolt, which boasts a 238-mile range, is now heading towards the company’s goal of moving 30,000 units a year.

All this EV progress bring up the question of what’s Berkshire Hathaway’s role in it?

It’s likely not as a manufacturer.

Berkshire’s roughly 8 percent stake in BYD, and its stake in GM, which was actually down 10 million shares (-16.7%) as of its most recent 13-F filing, doesn’t indicate Warren Buffett wants to be anything but a passive investor in making cars.

Berkshire will certainly play a role in new and used EV sales, as its Berkshire Hathaway Automotive Group of 78 independently operated dealerships with over 100 franchises in 10 states, gives the company a slice of that market.

However, fueling EVs is also right up Berkshire’s alley.

Not the Cars, the Fuel

Berkshire’s in a number of interesting spaces when it comes to fueling EVs. As the EV market-share grows, so do the number of consumers that will be charging their vehicles at home.

When it comes to home charging, its utilities, including PacifiCorp, MidAmerican Energy and NV Energy generate and supply power in twelve states. And overseas, Berkshire’s Northern Powergrid delivers electricity to 3.9 million homes and businesses in England.

Berkshire also is a big player in the electricity transmission business. Its BHE U.S. Transmission owns over a thousand miles of transmission lines in the southern U.S. and California. In Canada, Berkshire’s AltaLink is the largest regulated transmission company in Alberta, supplying electricity to more than 85% of the population.

Taking the EV on the Road

Even though much of the EV market will be charging its cars overnight at home, there is still a big need to be able to quickly charge your vehicle while traveling.

Out of necessity, Tesla has made a substantial investment in this space, to-date building 1,191 Supercharger Stations with 9,184 Superchargers.

These superchargers already benefit Berkshire in areas that get their power from Berkshire-owned utilities.

And a recent Berkshire acquisition has the potential to greatly boost their own capability in this space.

The New King of the Travel Center

In October 2017, Berkshire took a 38.6 percent equity stake in Pilot Flying J, the largest operator of travel centers in North America. That stake will grow in 2023 when Berkshire will become the majority shareholder by acquiring an additional 41.4 percent equity.

With 750 locations across the U.S. and Canada, and more than $20 billion in revenues, Pilot Flying J already plays a substantial role in fueling cars and commercial trucks. It’s also a natural fit for EV charging stations. And while EV ranges continue to grow, the need to charge your vehicle away from home is also growing.

That’s Not All

The charging station space is so new that there are likely to be multiple opportunities for Berkshire, as the lack of a need for storage tanks, which kept traditional petrol fueling stations centralized, means that charging stations can fit into public parking lots, mall and office building parking, and other spaces that were inconceivable for a gas station.

For example, in Oregon, PacifiCorp just received the greenlight to build seven charging stations as part of a $4.64 million transportation electrification plan.

PacifiCorp plans to install seven “pods” that would include multiple dual-standard direct current fast chargers, which can provide up to 80 miles of driving range in 20 minutes of charging, and at least one level 2 port, which offers up to 20 miles of range in an hour of charging.

Whether utilities will ultimately be allowed to own large networks of charging stations remains to be seen, as some environmental groups and potential competitors in the space are already objecting to that concept.

However, the future looks bright for Berkshire. It’s got the electric power, it’s got the transmission, and it’s even got the car dealerships and travel centers that clearly will make it a player in the growing EV market.

For More on BYD, read the Special Report: BYD, Berkshire’s Tesla.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Rocky Mountain Power to Construct Four New Wind Farms

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Rocky Mountain Power has chosen four new wind projects to fulfill its planned expansion of the amount of wind energy serving customers by 2020.

The four projects will expand Rocky Mountain Power’s owned and contracted wind power by more than 60%, and add enough new wind energy to power approximately 450,000 average homes.

The bids were selected following a request for proposal (RFP) issued in September 2017. The RFP establishes a competitive bidding process for the company to select the most cost-effective new wind projects.

The four selected projects are:

  • A 400-MW wind project in Converse County, Wyoming, which will be built by NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, with half of the project owned by PacifiCorp, and half of the project owned and delivered by NextEra under a Power Purchase Agreement.
  • A 161-MW wind project in Uinta County, Wyoming, which will be built by Invenergy, LLC, and owned and operated by PacifiCorp.
  • A 500-MW wind project in Carbon and Albany Counties, Wyoming, which will be built, owned and operated by PacifiCorp.
  • A 250-MW wind project in Carbon County, Wyoming, which will be built, owned and operated by PacifiCorp.

“The new wind projects are part of the company’s Energy Vision 2020 initiative, which will significantly expand the company’s Wyoming wind fleet and benefit the state and local economies,” said Cindy A. Crane, Rocky Mountain Power President and CEO. “The project also includes a 140-mile segment of the Gateway West high-voltage transmission line in Wyoming to connect the new wind energy to Rocky Mountain Power’s grid.”

The cost of the four new wind projects is estimated at approximately $1.5 billion, which is significantly less on a per-megawatt basis than when the new wind and transmission plan was first announced last April. The per-megawatt reduction in project costs helps make the Energy Vision 2020 initiative lower cost compared to other resource alternatives, such as energy market purchases, to meet forecasted customer energy needs.

The projects are also expected to:

  • Create between 1,100 and 1,600 construction jobs in Wyoming and more than 200 full-time positions;
  • Add approximately $120 million in tax revenue from construction; and
  • Bring significant post-construction annual tax revenues starting at approximately $11 million in 2021 and growing to $14 million annually by 2024.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Commentary: Berkshire Gives Up on Enormous Australian Gas Field

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The defining characteristic of any mirage is that the closer you think you are to it, the further away it seems to get.

Sadly, in what is sure to be a major disappointment for Berkshire Hathaway, after years of work its CalEnergy subsidiary is planning to decommission two exploration wells which have been used to test the potential for natural gas production in the Whicher Range, south of Busselton.

The gas field had been estimated to contain four trillion cubic feet of gas-in-place.

The problem has always been how to get it.

CalEnergy is the sole titleholder and operator of the exploration permit EP 408 located approximately 280 kilometers south of Perth, and covers both the Whicher Range and Wonnerup gas fields.

The test wells, WR1 and WR4, will be sealed with concrete and the well heads removed.

The land immediately around the well locations will be rehabilitated in line with conditions to be set out by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

In 2016, Peter Youngs, the Managing Director of CalEnergy Resources Group, discussed with MazorsEdge the progress on the development of the gas field, noting that “the field represents a large in place gas resource, its characteristics are challenging and there is much work still remaining to move this resource to a commercially developable status.”

Unfortunately, those obstacles proved to be too much to surmount.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire in Top Three in Wind Energy Production

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Xcel Energy, Berkshire Hathaway Energy and Alliant Energy are the top three US utilities with “wind capacity currently under construction or in advanced development,” according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Wind is playing an ever-increasing role in the US energy market.

Some 7,017 MW of new wind capacity was added in 2017, which boosted the US’s total to 89,077 MW.

Wind power has passed hydroelectric as the number one renewable energy source.

Wind energy generation is also a growing employer nationwide. At the end of 2016, the US topped 100,000 Americans employed in the wind energy industry.

According to the according to the American Wind Energy Association, “wind energy delivered over 30% of the electricity produced in Iowa and South Dakota in 2016. Kansas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota generated over 20% of their electricity from wind, while 20 states now produce more than 5% of their electricity from wind energy.”

Berkshire Hathaway is also playing a key role in the financing of wind-power projects. The recently announced 300-MW Tahoka Wind project, which will be constructed in Lynn County, Texas, has long-term tax equity from BHE Renewables, LLC, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Utilities Have $13+ Million in Benefits from Western Energy Imbalance Market in 4th Qtr 2017

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The California Independent System Operator (ISO) has released its western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) 2017 fourth quarter benefits report that shows the real-time energy imbalance market produced $33.46 million benefits for its six participating members.

During the fourth quarter of 2017 two Berkshire Hathaway Energy companies had over $13 million in benefits. PacifiCorp realized benefits of $6.83 million and NV Energy saved $6.45 million.

The total benefits since the western regional market was launched in 2014 now total $288.44 million for all six members.

Western EIM participants helped reduce carbon emissions in the region by 7,730 metric tons by using 18,060 megawatt-hours of excess renewable energy that otherwise would have been turned off; this translates into removing 1,655 passenger cars from the highways for a year.

“The ISO’s western EIM continues its positive uptick in benefits, accruing savings as it promotes a greener and more reliable energy grid,” said ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich. “We are very pleased with the results for all participants in this growing market.”

The EIM’s state-of-art technology automatically finds and delivers low-cost energy to serve consumers in California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada.

In addition to leveraging the diverse resources from a larger pool, the effective use of carbon-free generation provides added environmental benefits. Besides using low-cost energy, EIM utilities reduce their costs by being able to join together to decrease the amount of energy reserves that individual utilities must carry in real time to manage load.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

eVolution Networks Inks Strategic Deal with China’s Largest Data Center

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eVolution Networks, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy portfolio company, has announced a strategic commercial agreement with China Telecom for purchasing software licenses of eVolution’s Smart Energy Solution AI platform, generating 40% savings in Data Centers’ energy consumption across China.

The software first deployed in one of China Telecom south-west region, in some of the largest data center facilities. The agreement was signed after rigorous testing and simulations in various China Telecom data centers, earning the approval and certification of the China Telecom Beijing Research Institute (CTBRI).

eVolution’s SES is a unique and innovative AI software platform capable of using off-peak periods of services in a data centers to save significant amounts of energy. After months of testing and simulations, CTBRI approved the ability and reliability of SES and decided to implement the solution in operational data centers across China. CTBRI completed the integration of internal systems with eVolution’s SES engine and developed a custom interface to monitor, support and measure electricity savings.

China Telecom is the largest owner of data centers and Internet hosting services in China. It owns hundreds of data center facilities across the country that accommodate millions of servers. Apart from providing hosting services to other companies, China Telecom offers its own services, such as IPTV, high-speed internet, intranet services.

“This is a very significant milestone for both China Telecom and eVolution Networks,” says Adam Amitai, Chief Information Officer at eVolution. “China’s 5 years energy plan is a massive call to action for major Chinese corporations. eVolution Networks is committed to helping Chinese data centers become greener and more profitable. We are proud to have China Telecom as our first Chinese customer deploying artificial intelligence technology to reduce their carbon footprint. Our mission is to harness the power of artificial intelligence to improve the data center industry efficiency and profitability in China and globally.”

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results

Bum Knee Leads to Rising Star at Berkshire Hathaway Energy

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A torn ACL may have kept Adam Wright from fulfilling his dreams of being a pro football player, but his backup plan led to his becoming one of Berkshire Hathaway’s rising stars.

After Greg Abel was named Vice Chairman of Berkshire, MidAmerican Energy CEO Bill Fehrman was promoted to president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, and Adam Wright moved up to become the new CEO of MidAmerican Energy.

Wright had been serving as the vice president for gas delivery.

Wright’s initial career ambitions began on the gridiron where was a star tailback for Nebraska-Omaha. Unfortunately, a torn ACL meant his two year pro career for the New York Giants was limited to rehabbing his knee. Thankfully, the civil engineering major had interned at MidAmerican Energy during his college days, so when his career ended after he tore his ACL running down the field in practice, the Omaha native headed back to Berkshire Hathaway Energy where he spent his first nine years at Northern Natural Gas. He then moved on to manage wind development and operation for MidAmerican.

Now Wright’s the new head of MidAmerican Energy, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary that provides electric and natural gas service to nearly 1.5 million customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Who knows? At the ripe old age of 40, it may not be his last promotion.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Promotes Fehrman to CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy

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In the wake of Greg Abel being named Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, William J. Fehrman, 57, has breen promoted to President and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

Fehrman had been the head of Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s subsidiary MidAmerican Energy. Fehrman has been with the company since 2006.

During his time at MidAmerican, Fehrman oversaw the company’s growth into one of the leaders in providing renewable energy, primarily from wind power.

Fehrman is one of 18 Chief Executive Officers chosen to represent the electric industry on the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC). As the principal liaison between the federal government and electric power sector, the Council coordinates efforts to prepare for and respond to national-level disasters and threats to critical infrastructure that could impact national security and public safety. Fehrman serves as the executive sponsor of the Cyber Mutual Assistance Program, vice chair of the Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC) Member Executive Committee, and provides leadership to Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s co-chair of the Transformer Transportation Working Group.

Prior to 2006, Fehrman was president and CEO of Nebraska Public Power District, based in Columbus, Nebraska. He joined Nebraska Public Power District in May 1981 and held various positions across the business, including assignments in fossil and nuclear generation, until becoming CEO January 1, 2003.

Fehrman graduated in 1984 from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. In 1998, he earned a master’s degree in business administration from Regis University, Denver, Colorado. He also completed the Reactor Technology Program for utility executives from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and National Academy for Nuclear Training as well as the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations Senior Nuclear Plant Management Course. Fehrman is a former member of the National Nuclear Accrediting Board.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.