6 votes

It’s Warren Buffett versus Google, Facebook in latest wind-farm debate


  1. skybrian
    From the article: [...] [...] Alternative URLs: LA Times, MSN.

    From the article:

    Google, Facebook and Microsoft Corp. — three of the world’s biggest corporate buyers of clean power — are sounding the alarm that a nearly $4-billion, Warren Buffett-backed renewable-energy project proposed in Iowa isn’t necessarily in the best interest of customers, including them.

    If approved, it would be the largest complex of wind farms in the entire country when it comes online by the end of 2024, producing enough electricity for more than 700,000 homes. MidAmerican Energy, a utility owned by Buffett conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has asked state regulators to approve terms including a guaranteed 11.25% rate of return before starting construction on a project it says will help in its efforts to trim carbon emissions by 75% compared to 2005 levels.

    But the big-name tech giants that operate data centers in the state warn the project, dubbed Wind Prime, could drive up electricity costs. MidAmerican, they say, should consider alternatives. “We have concerns that the current Wind Prime proposal is not in the energy customers’ best interest,” Corina Standiford, a spokeswoman for Alphabet Inc.’s Google, said in an email.


    MidAmerican, based in Des Moines, proposed the project in January, laying out a sweeping plan for about 2,000 megawatts of wind power and 50 megawatts of solar generation. The company — which derives about 58% of its power in Iowa from wind and 42% from coal, nuclear and other sources — said Wind Prime is a key piece of the company’s goal to reach net-zero emissions.

    MidAmerican asked regulators to approve the project by the end of October so it could qualify for $1.8 billion in federal renewable energy credits.


    Of course, the pushback from the tech giants doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t ultimately support it — or buy its power if it comes to fruition. Any multibillion-dollar power-plant project is bound to trigger some back and forth, even heated debate, among customers, environmental and consumer groups, and others. Regulators could approve MidAmerican’s proposed terms for the project, call for changes to them or reject it altogether.

    Standiford, the Google spokeswoman, said the company is committed to run its Iowa data center — one of the company’s largest — on 100% carbon-free power and supports “new, cost-effective sources” of clean energy.

    Alternative URLs: LA Times, MSN.

    2 votes