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Was Buffett's NV Energy Purchase Really A 'Big Bet'?

A year ago, billionaire Warren Buffett bought NV Energy, the power company that serves 2.4 million customers in Nevada.

A week ago, the New York Times characterized Buffett’s move as a “big bet on renewables.”

But was Buffett's $5.6 billion purchase of NV Energy -- more like $10 billion when the debt he took on is added in -- really much of a gamble in a country increasingly turning to solar, wind and other power sources?

In addition, California is mandated to generate 33 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020. Nevada is shooting for 25 percent by 2025.

The problem for NV Energy could be breaking into California's energy market. State laws there say in-state energy producers take precedence over out-of-state companies. For that reason, Ucilia Wang, a greentech reporter, says it will be difficult for renewable energy produced in Nevada to splice  into California's power grid.

But what Buffett and others might be anticipating, she added, is for California to expand its renewable energy requirements. In that case, the state may have no alternative but to turn to Buffett's NV Energy and  companies in other nearby states to meet mandated demands.

Wang and Steve Jordon, who covers Buffett's moves for the Omaha World-Herald, joined KNPR's State of Nevada to talk about it.


Ucilia Wang, green technology reporter, Climate Confidential

Steve Jordon, business reporter, Omaha World-Herald
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