Category Archives: Berkshire Hathaway Energy

BHE Renewables and MidAmerican Energy Renew Contract with Uptake Technologies

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BHE Renewables and MidAmerican Energy, two subsidiaries of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, have renewed their contract with Uptake Technologies. Uptake has previously worked with both companies to deliver AI-enabled SaaS products to optimize maintenance operations and increase energy production across their wind fleets.

The new contract builds on the previous engagement, expanding use of Uptake’s product from the current 4,914 megawatts across 23 sites to an additional 13 sites and 2,283 megawatts.

“Three years ago, our companies recognized the potential of Uptake’s AI capabilities at a time when Uptake’s products were promising, though still emerging,” said Tom Budler, president, wind, at BHE Renewables. “We have been pleased with the results and look forward to expanding the application to additional sites and collaborating with Uptake to develop and implement application enhancements over the next three years.”

Uptake’s power performance AI application enables engineering and operations teams to quickly identify power production issues and their root causes, correcting for confounding variables; leverage supporting evidence to decide on and take action or improve service provider management; and prioritize machine learning recommendations based on potential energy production gains. Uptake has proven to increase annual energy production up to 2% at typical wind customers’ sites, including those under warranty maintenance.

The original engagement between Uptake and MidAmerican and BHE Renewables began in 2017 with the goal of increasing the energy production of the companies’ wind turbines through predictive data analytics.

Since then, Uptake has been deployed across 16 MidAmerican and seven BHE Renewables sites. Between January 2019 and September 2020 alone, Uptake has delivered a total of 981 validated power performance alerts for MidAmerican and BHE Renewables.

“It’s incredibly validating that one of our largest and longest-standing customers is doubling down on Uptake,” shared Brad Keywell, Founder and CEO of Uptake. “These companies represented our first customer in the energy industry — they believed in our software and our ability to uncover operational recommendations from the available data coming off their wind turbines. I’m proud that our products have delivered helpful and impactful insights that have enabled legitimate value to Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s business.”

© 2020 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 Hathaway Energy Forms New Business Unit

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Berkshire Hathaway Energy has announced BHE Compression Services, a newly formed Berkshire Hathaway Energy business that will offer natural gas compression services focused on large horsepower with the patent pending technology known as CleanMachine™.

CleanMachine™ technology was developed to eliminate or capture raw methane emissions and minimize combustion emissions. The technology ensures the company’s fleet has the lowest total compressor package emissions, with targeted methane intensity rates of less than 0.2%. With this performance, BHE Compression Services will become the industry leader in responsibly sourced natural gas compression services.

Industry veterans Michael Robbins and Peter Strezo, co-founders of TCB Energy Services, will serve in key leadership roles at BHE Compression Services and will work at the company’s headquarters in Houston, Texas.

“We are excited to partner with Berkshire Hathaway Energy to build a new, environmentally sustainable compression company,” said Robbins, president and CEO of BHE Compression Services. “The company’s long-term focus of investing profits back into its people and businesses creates a unique opportunity to build lasting strategies, culture and relationships well into the future.”

“It is an exciting time for BHE Compression Services, and we are committed to building a business that is focused on customer service, employee commitment, environmental respect, regulatory integrity, operational excellence and financial strength,” said Strezo, vice president, technology and environmental. “Being part of Berkshire Hathaway Energy expands access to knowledge, resources, suppliers and strategic partners in the areas of methane emissions reduction technologies, engineering expertise in the energy industry, cybersecurity, and pipeline operations and maintenance.”

Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s formation of the new company and investment in CleanMachine™ technology are a natural continuation of the company’s commitment to using natural resources wisely and to reducing emissions at their source. The technology will be an important asset for BHE Pipeline Group, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy business that owns and operates the largest interstate natural gas pipeline system in the U.S.

“I am excited to collaborate with Mike and Pete on the launch of BHE Compression Services at a time when the industry places paramount importance not only on safe and reliable service, but also on environmentally sustainable business practices,” said Mark Hewett, president and CEO of BHE Pipeline Group.

BHE Pipeline Group is an industry leader in methane emissions reduction programs as one of the first 14 members of ONE Future, a founding partner in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Natural Gas STAR methane challenge program and a partner in the EPA’s Natural Gas STAR program since 1994.

© 2020 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 Hathaway’s Utilities Save $13.19 Million in Q2 2020 Thanks to EIM

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Two of Berkshire Hathaway’s utilities, PacifiCorp and NV Energy, saved a combined $13.19 million in Q2 2020 through the western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM).

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) has released its western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) 2020 second-quarter benefits report that shows total savings have reached $1 billion since the market’s launch in November 2014.

In 2014, Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s PacifiCorp agreed to become the first participant in the Energy Imbalance Market. Berkshire’s NV Energy, which serves 2.4 million customers in Nevada, commenced participation on December 1, 2015.

The western EIM platform automatically finds and delivers low-cost energy to serve consumers in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Optimizing diverse resources from a large geographic area enables more effective use of carbon-free generation besides reducing costs.

The Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM), is operated by the California Independent System Operator (ISO), and is averaging $1 million daily combined benefits for the eleven participating utilities.

ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich, who’s retiring from the ISO later this summer, envisioned the western real-time market to optimize resources and integrate high amounts of renewable energy while improving the reliable operation of the grid. “This milestone demonstrates the Western EIM is providing significant operational efficiencies and greater integration of variable resources for its participants,” said Berberich. “As many entities strive to meet the demands of the quickly evolving grid, the Western EIM will continue to be an important market for supporting a cleaner, greener system in the West.”

“This benefits milestone shines a spotlight on the value of regional collaboration,” said ISO Board of Governors Chair David Olsen. “The ISO will build on this momentum, together with its Western EIM partners, to develop even more efficient ways to share resources and improve reliability west-wide, in order to further reduce costs and emissions for all.”

John Prescott, Chair of Western EIM’s Governing Body, said that as the Western EIM continues to grow, so too will the benefits. “The Western Energy Imbalance Market is helping utilities and participants across the West use their energy resources much more efficiently, while reducing costs to their consumers,” Chair Prescott said. “With the EIM slated to see record growth by adding 10 balancing authorities over the next two years, the Governing Body looks forward to seeing the valuable regional coordination grow tremendously.”

With increasing levels of variable resources on the grid, such as solar and wind, there are times when output from these resources exceed demand for electricity. To balance the grid, those resources are often curtailed. Through the Western EIM and regional collaboration, clean energy resources are transferred across a large geographic area to serve demand where needed, leading to a reduction in curtailments for the second quarter of the year by 147,514 megawatt hours (MWh), and 1.24 million MWh overall since 2015.

With the increased generation of carbon-free energy, the cumulative CO2 emissions have been reduced by 533,381 metric tons, or the equivalent of taking 112,141 passenger cars off the road.

Additionally, operators are seeing qualitative benefits from the increased visibility and resource options available, especially during times such as the evening ramp or the variable nature of storm cloud cover.

© 2020 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.

PacifiCorp Issues Largest Request for New Energy Projects in Company History

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Berkshire Hathaway’s PacifiCorp has issued the largest request for proposals for energy projects in company history, seeking competitively priced resources that can connect to its 10-state transmission system. Already the largest regulated utility owner of wind power in the West, these projects will significantly increase the amount of renewable energy resources serving customers in six western states.

The company does business as Pacific Power in California, Oregon and Washington and as Rocky Mountain Power in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

PacifiCorp’s most recent Integrated Resource Plan outlines the company’s plans to add 1,823 megawatts of new solar resources, 595 megawatts of new battery energy storage and 1,920 megawatts of new wind resources by the end of 2023. This is enough to power nearly three million typical homes with renewable energy.

The company will accept bids featuring different resource types and bid structures, including forms of power-purchase, battery storage, and build-transfer agreements. PacifiCorp will not be submitting any self-build resources and therefore won’t be competing with independent developers on their projects. Projects must be able to achieve commercial operation by December 31, 2024. Long-lead projects, such as pumped storage, can submit offers with commercial operation dates beyond December 31, 2024.

“These projects represent PacifiCorp’s longstanding and enduring commitment to create an energy future that is affordable, reliable and increasingly sustainable,” said Rick Link, PacifiCorp vice president of resource planning.
“Our All-Source RFP is a catalyst to help realize that future and enable our customers and communities across the West to benefit from lower-cost renewable energy to grow their economies, run their businesses and homes.”

The 2020 all-source request for proposals is based on findings from a broad range of studies and technical analyses developed through an open and extensive public process, with input from an active and diverse group of stakeholders, including customer advocacy groups, community members, regulatory staff, and other interested parties. PacifiCorp met with stakeholders in five states and hosted 18 public-input meetings over nearly two years to develop a plan to provide the cleanest, least-risk and lowest-cost electricity for customers.

While it is anticipated that most bids will feature wind and solar resources, projects of any variety of qualifying energy production will be considered, allowing developers to present technologies and resources that fit their business model and best position them to compete in the energy market. PacifiCorp anticipates a robust response and a diversity of proposals.

© 2020 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 a 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: Buffett Casts His Vote with Dominion Energy Assets Acquisition

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With Berkshire Hathaway’s $9.7 billion agreement to acquire Dominion Energy’s natural gas transmission and storage business, Warren Buffett has engaged in a strategy that is familiar to Buffet watchers—the choice between owning a part of a company through equities, or the acquisition of whole companies. It’s a choice that Buffett that has made for almost six decades based on which valuation he judges to be cheaper.

At this year’s annual meeting, Buffett revealed that he had bought relatively few stocks at a time when the market’s plunge had many seeing a rare buying opportunity. Buffett thought differently, and his sale of Berkshire’s entire commercial airline portfolio due to what he felt would be long term profitability issues for United, Delta, American, and Southwest, reflected that perspective.

Now, Buffett has found something he likes. It is an acquisition that makes Berkshire Hathaway a giant in natural gas distribution, vaulting it from carrying 8% of the nation’s natural gas to 18%.

The acquisition adds to one of Berkshire’s core businesses, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which will acquire 100% of Dominion Energy Transmission, Questar Pipeline and Carolina Gas Transmission; and 50% of Iroquois Gas Transmission System. Additionally, Berkshire will acquire 25% of Cove Point LNG – an LNG export, import and storage facility in Maryland.

The acquisition includes over 7,700 miles of natural gas transmission lines, with approximately 20.8 billion cubic feet per day of transportation capacity and 900 billion cubic feet of operated natural gas storage with 364 billion cubic feet of company-owned working storage capacity, and partial ownership of a liquefied natural gas export, import and storage facility.

Demand for natural gas has risen from 4,917,152 million cubic feet in 1949 to 31,014,345 million cubic feet in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. And with the retirement of more and more coal-fired generating plants, natural gas is a key replacement. Even with the enormous growth of wind and solar, new gas-fired plants are being constructed as backup generation for when the winds are calm and the skies are cloudy.

By making this acquisition, Buffett adds key assets to Berkshire Hathaway Energy that will guarantee a pay-off not just in the short term, but for decades to come. And that’s exactly what Buffet likes, putting money to work for decades to come.

This is not to say that Buffett won’t return to buying equities, but for now, he has voted with his dollars that the better deal in the near term is the acquisition of a whole company.

© 2020 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 a 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.

Warren Buffett Nabs Natural Gas Assets from Dominion Energy

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Warren Buffett has finally used his famed “elephant gun” on a key addition to Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy has executed a definitive agreement to acquire Dominion Energy’s natural gas transmission and storage business.

The assets include over 7,700 miles of natural gas transmission lines, with approximately 20.8 billion cubic feet per day of transportation capacity and 900 billion cubic feet of operated natural gas storage with 364 billion cubic feet of company-owned working storage capacity, and partial ownership of a liquefied natural gas export, import and storage facility.

The transaction has an enterprise value of approximately $9.7 billion.

“I admire Tom Farrell for his exceptional leadership across the energy industry as well as within Dominion Energy,” said Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. “We are very proud to be adding such a great portfolio of natural gas assets to our already strong energy business.”

As part of the transaction, Berkshire Hathaway Energy will acquire 100% of Dominion Energy Transmission, Questar Pipeline and Carolina Gas Transmission; and 50% of Iroquois Gas Transmission System.

The agreement does not include acquisition of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Additionally, the company will acquire 25% of Cove Point LNG – an LNG export, import and storage facility in Maryland. Dominion Energy will continue to own 50% of Cove Point, with Brookfield Asset Management continuing to own the remaining 25% share. Berkshire Hathaway Energy will operate the Cove Point facility once the transaction closes.

The Cove Point export terminal is one of only six LNG export facilities in the U.S.

“This premier natural gas transmission and storage business has been operated and managed in a best-in-class manner,” said Bill Fehrman, Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s president and CEO. “Acquiring this portfolio of natural gas assets considerably expands our company’s footprint in several Eastern and Western states as well as globally, increasing the market reach and diversity of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.”

“We are honored to be gaining a wonderful group of employees with a wealth of experience that will continue to provide high-quality service for our customers and partners. We look forward to welcoming them to the team,” said Greg Abel, Berkshire Hathaway’s vice chairman, non-insurance operations, and Berkshire Hathaway Energy chairman.

“We are fortunate Dominion Energy has entrusted us to preserve and build upon such a remarkable business that will allow Berkshire Hathaway Energy to add $9.7 billion in asset value to the portfolio that currently exceeds $100 billion.”

© 2020 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.

Massive Nevada Solar Farm Will Set Record for Battery Storage

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The sad fact that solar farms don’t work at night is their major drawback. However, that problem is getting ever closer to being solved.

A newly approved 690-megawatt solar electric farm to be built near Las Vegas, Nevada, will set a record for paired battery storage.

The Gemini Solar Project will have the ability to shift electricity produced when the sun is shining to evening hours.

The project, once installed at full capacity, will be the largest solar photovoltaic project in the State of Nevada. The project site is located approximately 25 miles northeast of the Las Vegas metropolitan area, immediately south of the Moapa River Indian Reservation in an unincorporated area of Clark County, Nevada.

The solar farm will bring enough power to Las Vegas to power 400,000 homes, and its planned 380-megawatt battery array with roughly 1.5 gigawatt-hours of storage capacity will enable at least four hours of energy storage.

The Gemini Solar Project is the first to be approved for construction on public land since 2018.

© 2020 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.

Trump Administration Approves Massive Solar Farm on Federal Land

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A 690-megawatt solar electric farm has received federal approval to be built on federal land near Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Gemini Solar Project, once installed at full capacity, will be the largest solar photovoltaic project in the State of Nevada.

The project site is located approximately 25 miles northeast of the Las Vegas metropolitan area, immediately south of the Moapa River Indian Reservation in an unincorporated area of Clark County, Nevada.

The NV Energy Crystal Substation and an NV Energy high-voltage transmission line are located less than four miles to the west, and will bring enough electricity to Las Vegas to power 400,000 homes.

The solar project is the first to be approved for construction on public land since 2018.

© 2020 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.

BHE Canada to Build Wind Farm in Alberta

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Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s BHE Canada subsidiary will build a 117.6MW wind farm in the village of Whitla, southwest of Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.

The Rattlesnake Ridge Wind Power Project will consist of 28 – 4.2MW wind turbines generating a combined 117.6MW of electricity. Although a turbine model and layout has been finalized for permitting, the application to the AUC allows the company the flexibility to change the turbine model and layout, pending on-going discussions with turbine manufacturers.

The only current anticipated change would be removing 2 turbine locations and using a turbine with a slightly higher nameplate capacity. The general turbine characteristics would remain unchanged.

The project will t-tap 879L, the 138kV transmission line, owned and operated by Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s AltaLink, which is located within the south end of the Project area.

AltaLink is Alberta’s largest regulated electricity transmission company, and was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway Energy in 2014.

The project will begin construction in the summer of 2020, with a target date for commercial operation of December 2021.

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 Hires Fire Mitigation Specialist

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With the massive California wildfires that bankrupted PG&E on everyone’s minds, Berkshire Hathaway’s NV Energy has proactively hired Mark Regan, a former fire marshal with nearly three decades of experience, its first-ever Fire Mitigation Specialist.

Regan will be part of the NV Energy team that implements the natural disaster protection plan required by Senate Bill 329, which includes the Public Safety Outage Management program. Regan will also work with fire departments statewide on efforts to reduce the risk of wildfires.

“Wildfires pose an increasing threat to our state and our customers,” said Kevin Geraghty, NV Energy Senior Vice President of Operations. “Mark’s expertise as a former fire marshal will provide us with important insight into developing and implementing safety programs that will help us reduce fire risk and keep our customers and communities safe.”

Prior to joining NV Energy, Regan spent the last seven years as Fire Marshal and Division Chief for the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, and before that worked in multiple roles for the Sierra Fire Protection District. He has served as incident commander for numerous wildland fire emergencies and has been the lead investigator for multiple wildland fires. He also brings an extensive background in public safety education and outreach, having led 35 evacuation drills, including the largest full-scale drill in the state and the first bi-state evacuation drill with California and served as a public information officer.

“I am excited to be part of this company that makes the safety of the communities it serves a priority,” Regan said. “I look forward to working with the NV Energy team and other stakeholders on the natural disaster protection plan and building partnerships with fire agencies and emergency management teams throughout the state.”

Regan is also the President of the Nevada Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators.

© 2019 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.