Warren Buffett’s $26 billion bet on western U.S. power plants, transmission lines and wind farms is poised to pay off.
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., with the help of California’s grid operator, is moving to unite the holdings under a single market capable of dispatching power across seven states every five minutes. The system, designed to handle sudden swings in supply and demand, would revolutionize the markets from Oregon to Nevada, where 38 transmission operators manually balance their territories on an hourly basis.
The move would be a game-changer for the renewables that Berkshire Hathaway Energy Co. has accumulated over the past decade, including two of the world’s largest solar farms, and for other clean-power producers, according to those who trade in the region’s markets. Berkshire’s plants stand to run for longer periods of time, and its NV Energy Inc. and PacifiCorp utilities will save as much as $63.9 million annually by 2017, Energy and Environmental Economics Inc. reports show.
“It would be huge if all 38 balancing authorities joined,” Sean Breiner, a market design analyst for San Ramon, California-based energy trader Viasyn, said by telephone June 2. “Instead of having these balkanized regions, you’d have resources from Idaho to Wyoming all flowing into one kind of large spot market.”