No to Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs). Yes to wind energy, for Warren Buffett
MidAmerican is cancelling its pursuit of new small modular nuclear power options…..
Buffett & co choose wind energy investment over nuclear REeweconomy, By Mike Jacobs 14 June 2013 The Equation Investors working with utilities are making clear and clean choices for meeting our energy needs. Two big announcements show wind and energy efficiency are financeable and attractive, and new small nuclear reactors are not. Recently MidAmerican Energy chose to add more wind energy to its supply, dump a “modular” nuclear plant proposal, and decline to follow the trend toward burning natural gas.
Meanwhile, today Seattle City Light announced a purchase of energy from a commercial energy efficiency developer, demonstrating a power-purchase approach to fund investments in energy conservation that won’t disrupt a utility company’s financial health.
With Warren Buffet behind the wind decision, (MidAmerican is a subsidiary of Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway), and a new financial model possibly cracking the nut on building owner and utility ambivalence about deep energy retrofits for commercial buildings, these are important developments.
To summarise what just happened:
- The best-known investor in the utility arena is raising its stake in wind in Iowa $1.9 billion, adding 1,050 megawatts of wind generation to bring MidAmerican’s total wind generation capacity in Iowa by year-end 2015 to 3,335 megawatts, without raising rates. MidAmerican was the #1 utility owner of windpower in America in 2012.
- MidAmerican is cancelling its pursuit of new small modular nuclear power options and refunding $8.8 million it was allowed to collect from ratepayers. Company stated that the lack of certainty about the technology from potential manufactures hurt further investment. MidAmerican also stated that it sees risks with more natural gas impacting the global climate, and uncertain costs that will fall on greenhouse gas sources.
- Seattle City Light, the 10th largest public power system, is contracting with a new firm, EnergyRM, for energy from making commercialbuildings more efficient. The new approach can overcome the greatest obstacles to investing in energy efficiency in tenant-occupied buildings. The investor will own the energy savings, and pay rent to the building owner. The utility will buy the energy savings in a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), the same sort of contract used by independent power plants to sell electricty to utilities.
These are important deals, as they demonstrate what choices we have for getting off fossil fuels for electric power. Iowa has championed large-scale windfarms since 1983, creating a model for renewable electricity standards. Iowa has demonstrated how to ramp up renewables, and already uses wind for 25 percent of the electricity supply. The new announcement will put the state at about 30percent windpower. MidAmerican apparently doesn’t see a problem with that level of wind, and has no plans to raise consumer rates as it increases its own supply of windpower…….. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/buffett-co-tip-wind-energy-investment-over-modular-nuclear-13129
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