Warren Buffett is driving truckloads of money into electric companies.
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway recently announced that it plans to buy Oncor, one of the country’s largest electricity-transmission companies, for $9 billion. And Berkshire was already making 10 percent of its earnings from energy investments. It looks like the Oracle of Omaha is betting that there are big improvements for utilities to make.
“There are tremendous efficiencies to be squeezed out of the system,” Jon Wellinghoff told the Los Angeles Times. Wellinghoff is the former chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and chief executive of consulting firm Policy DE.
To wring these efficiencies (read “profits”) out of the system, Berkshire is pushing for a more interconnected electrical system across the American West. It’s involved in a project to build 1,000 miles of transmission lines across Idaho and Wyoming. That would allow distribution of cheap renewable energy — which is sometimes wasted in places where too much is produced at once — to more places that need electricity. Of course, it might also allow coal power plants to stay profitable longer.