Motley Fool’s School: Wisdom from Omaha, posted on Telegram.com
Photo Credit: Forbes
Superinvestors and business partners Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger recently held forth at their Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. Here are some paraphrased nuggets:
On energy: It’s expected that 58 percent of Berkshire Hathaway’s energy will come from wind by the end of 2016. The company has committed more than $18 billion to renewable energy. Munger sees renewable energy as a huge benefit to humanity.
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (BUSINESS WIRE)–Over the next two days, Grand Valley Power (GVP), an electric cooperative utility, and GRID Alternatives, the nation’s largest non-profit solar installer, will complete installation of the country’s first utility-sponsored community solar array serving low-income households. The 29-kilowatt array will provide low-cost solar power to eight hardworking families in GVP’s service area and serve as a national model for clean energy access. The installation, which broke ground in March, is being completed during GRID Alternatives Colorado’s Community Solarthon event with help from over 100 community volunteers and job trainees.
“Why are we doing this?” says Tom Walch, GVP’s General Manager. “We believe that solar powered generation is an idea whose time has come. Community solar is the best way to harness this developing technology.
With distributed generation steadily rising and creeping into new states, electricity regulators in each region of the U.S. are dealing with change very differently.
Regulatory officials from California, Texas, Minnesota and Arizona discussed how they’re addressing some of the most pressing issues in their service territories this week at the National Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid in Washington, D.C.
Excerpt: Nebraska’s gap assistance program, which will start with $1.5 million of lottery funds in 2016, pays tuition, fees, equipment costs and some administrative costs for resident students with a family income no more than two and a half times the federal poverty limit . . . They must also be seeking employment in career fields deemed “in-demand” by lawmakers, including financial, computer, engineering or health services, transportation and logistics, manufacturing, biosciences, business management, renewable energy, hospitality and tourism.
Initially elected to the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) Board of Directors in 2002, Mary Harding is now serving her third term.
Excerpt: At Nebraska Public Power District, we take serious pride in serving Nebraskans. Company loyalty runs deep . . . But Nebraska has a number of outstanding utilities, and I consider Lincoln Electric System (LES) to be a leader in several ways. Their focus on the future is exemplary. Reliable, efficient systems aren’t built overnight, and utilities are notorious for moving at glacial speed. But LES is taking steady, measured steps to assure the long-term health of their system, from the perspectives of managing both rates and environmental impact. (By contrast, I believe utilities that have failed to take advantage of recent record low pricing for renewable energy will look back with regret at opportunities lost. I would be happy to be proved wrong by history on this count someday.)
Excerpt: Run by Oakland nonprofit Grid Alternatives, the effort will install home solar arrays in disadvantaged neighborhoods, using $14.7 million raised through California’s cap-and-trade system for reining in greenhouse gas emissions. That system forces factories, power plants, oil refineries and other large businesses to buy credits for every ton of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases they pump into the atmosphere . . . Most homeowners are asked to make small contributions for the installation, such as agreeing to feed the crew installing the array, or agreeing to help with the installation themselves. Otherwise, it’s free. The arrays will save most homeowners $400 to $1,000 per year on electricity, depending on where they live.
Move over, shale. The sun is now the fastest-growing source of U.S. electricity.
Solar power capacity in the U.S. has jumped 20-fold since 2008 as companies including Apple Inc. use it to reduce their carbon footprints. Rooftop panels are sprouting on homes from suburban New York to Phoenix, driven by suppliers such as Solar City Corp. and NRG Energy Inc.
Geronimo Energy, LLC announced the sale of more wind and solar energy projects to BHE Renewables, LLC, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy. Terms were not disclosed.
Included in the portfolio acquired by BHE Renewables are: the Grande Prairie Wind Farm in Holt County, Nebraska, an acquisition Berkshire announced two weeks ago; the Walnut Ridge Wind Farm in Bureau County, Illinois; and a portfolio of Minnesota solar project developments.
Recently Bill Loveless, writer for USA Today, interviewed David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy, the largest independent producer of electricity in our nation. NRG is aiming to “eventually becoming a strong rival” to Solar City, currently the industry leader in rooftop installations. Here is an excerpt from the article:
“I’m very bullish on the idea that within three to five years people will be able to go off the grid,” Crane said . . . He said he has “no time for the debate” over whether state policies promoting rooftop solar punish non-solar customers by leaving them with a greater share of a utility’s operating costs. One of those policies, known as “net metering,” requires utilities to compensate homeowners for solar power they generate but don’t use.
“What will happen is that when people can go all the way off the grid, the debate over whether net metering is fair to people who don’t have solar panels will become moot because people will have gone completely beyond the reach of the system,” he said.