American billionaire invests heavily in wind power for the future

In his annual letter to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., CEO Warren Buffett said MidAmerican Energy, a subsidiary company, has invested in or is committed to investing more than €3.6 billion in wind farms.

“MidAmerican will have 2,909 megawatts of wind farm generation in operation by the end of 2011, more than any other regulated electric utility in the country,” Buffett, who is ranked at having a personal wealth of €34 billion, said last week in his annual report.

“The total amount that MidAmerican has invested or committed to wind energy is a staggering $5.4 billion [€3.9 billion]. We can make this sort of investment because MidAmerican retains all of its earnings, unlike other utilities that generally pay out most of what they earn.”

Buffett, 80, is considered one of the shrewdest investors in the world. Berkshire Hathaway, which is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, and its subsidiaries are involved in insurance, utilities and energy, railroads, jewelry, finance, manufacturing, retailing and services.

MidAmerican, which has assets of €32 billion and 16,300 employees, says it supplies 2.4 million customers in the US with electricity, operating as the largest supplier in Iowa, Wyoming and Utah and as an important provider in other states as well.

MidAmerican describes itself as leading the US in ownership of wind turbines powered electric generation among rate-regulated utilities. The company says that by the end of the year 26% of its total generation capacity will come from wind power.

Upbeat about both the future of the US economy and wind power, Buffett told shareholders that MidAmerican invests in long-lived, regulated assets.

“We are expected to put up ever-increasing sums to satisfy the future needs of our customers. If we meanwhile operate reliably and efficiently, we know that we will obtain a fair return on these investments.”

By Chris Rose,