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Buffett Buys Big Into California Solar

Sullivan Solar Power

Warren Buffett expanded his business empire’s solar profile in a major way—a subsidiary of his MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company has acquired two California solar power projects that will generate 579 megawatts of power, as well as roughly 650 jobs as the facilities are under construction.

MidAmerican Solar, under the umbrella of MidAmerican Renewables, made the deal with SunPower Corp. for the Antelope Valley Solar Projects, which will be based in Kern and Los Angeles counties. According to a press release issued from both companies, the two projects will form the largest permitted solar photovoltaic power development in the world. The facilities are already contracted to provide power to Southern California Edison. SunPower will oversee and operate the Antelope Valley Solar Projects, which the San Jose-based company has developed over the last four years. The permit and environmental review processes have been completed, and construction is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of this year. The renewable energy plants should be complete by the end of 2015.

SunPower and MidAmerican Solar say that the Antelope Valley Solar Projects could offset more than 775,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, according to estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That number, they say, is equivalent to removing almost three million cars from California's highways over 20 years.

“The Antelope Valley Solar Projects mark a historic milestone for the energy industry,” said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, regions, in the press release. “We are delivering highly reliable, low-cost renewable energy at a very large scale. SunPower is proud to partner with MidAmerican Solar and Southern California Edison, recognized leaders in clean energy development, bringing critically needed jobs and economic opportunity to California and helping the state achieve its renewable portfolio requirement.”

MidAmerican Renewables, based in Des Moines, Iowa, with offices in Phoenix and Calipatria, Calif., owns several renewable energy properties, with a portfolio that includes wind, geothermal and hydro power projects, as well as solar. MidAmerican Solar’s other projects include Topaz Solar Farms, a 550-megawatt facility in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and a stake in the Agua Caliente 290-megawatt solar facility in Yuma County in Arizona. SunPower owns solar plants around the world, including 130 megawatts in California Valley Solar Ranch, being built in San Luis Obispo County.

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