Berkshire Hathaway Energy owns one of the most significant renewable energy portfolios in the United States. Currently, an expanding portion of Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s electricity generation mix originates from environmentally cleaner sources such as wind, water, the sun and the earth’s natural heat.
As Berkshire Hathaway Energy continues to expand into the unregulated renewables market, a primary subsidiary – BHE Renewables – was created to monitor unregulated solar, wind, hydro and geothermal projects.
Based in Des Moines, Iowa, BHE Renewables includes BHE Solar, BHE Wind, BHE Geothermal and BHE Hydro.
BHE Renewables – Wind
Wind power has been used for thousands of years. The sailboat is the earliest known use of wind power. As technology has progressed, the wind has been used for grinding grain, pumping water, and providing electricity to farms beyond the reach of power lines. Today, wind farms use the energy contained in prevailing winds to generate electricity for homes and businesses. During 2016, the UK generated more electricity for the first time from wind turbines than from burning coal. Read more here.
BHE Renewables concentrates on unregulated wind-powered generation projects, with full ownership in the following projects.
BHE Renewables Wind Projects
The construction of the 81-megawatt Bishop Hill II project begin in the fourth quarter of 2011, initiating commercial operations in December 2012. Situated in Henry County, Illinois, approximately 40 miles northwest of Peoria, Ameren Illinois currently purchases the project’s electricity, in accordance with the terms of a 20-year power purchase agreement.
Pinyon Pines I and II
In November 2012, BHE Renewables acquired the 168-megawatt Pinyon Pines I and the 132-megawatt Pinyon Pines II projects, formerly known as Alta Wind
VII and Alta Wind IX, respectively, from California Highwind Power, a subsidiary of Terra-Gen Power, LLC. The projects are located near Tehachapi, California and were finished in December 2012. Southern California Edison purchases electricity from each of the projects pursuant to the terms of power purchase agreements that extend to 2035.
In 2014, construction began on the 300-megawatt Jumbo Road wind project, located approximately 50 miles southwest of Amarillo, Texas. Austin Energy purchases electricity from the project in accordance with the terms of an 18-year power purchase agreement. Commercial operations began in April 2015.
The 400-megawatt Grande Prairie wind project is situated in Holt County, Nebraska. Construction on the project began in July 2015, and the project began commercial operations in December 2016. Omaha Public Power District purchases 100 percent of the wind generation from this project in accordance with a 20-year power purchase agreement.
The 72-megawatt Marshall wind project is located in Marshall County, Kansas. Construction on the project began in 2015, and the project began commercial operations in April 2016. The project has four power purchase agreements each with the city of Independence, Missouri, Kansas Municipal Electric Association, Kansas Power Pool and Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission.
The prospective Walnut Ridge wind project is a 210-megawatt wind farm being developed in north-central Bureau County, Illinois, covering approximately 14,000 acres of farmland. Construction on the project is set to commence shortly with a target completion in 2018.
Check out a MidAmerican wind farm here:
BHE Renewables – Geothermal
Geothermal power plants use the natural heat of the earth to generate electricity for homes and businesses. Geothermal power is a renewable source of energy and does not rely on coal or other fossil fuels to create electricity.
Located in Calipatria, California, BHE Renewables’ geothermal facilities operate as CalEnergy Operations. The company owns 10 geothermal facilities in California’s Imperial Valley that have the capacity to produce up to 338 megawatts. Its natural gas-fueled plants include a 551-megawatt plant in Illinois, a 240-megawatt plant in New York, a 212-megawatt plant in Texas and a 50-megawatt plant in Arizona.
BHE Renewables Geothermal Projects
The Cordova Energy Center, located in Illinois, is a natural gas-fueled combined-cycle generation plant owned by Cordova Energy Company LLC., an indirect subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy. The facility’s net capacity is approximately 551 megawatts. Cordova Energy Center has contracted to sell its output to Constellation Energy Commodities Group. Although the Constellation Group has the right to purchase all of the plant’s capacity and energy until December 2019, Cordova Energy Center retains the option to sell 50 percent of its output to other marketers.
The Imperial Valley project is comprised of 10 generating plants in the Salton Sea Geothermal Area in Southern California’s Imperial Valley. The plants produce electricity from naturally occurring geothermal steam. Geothermal production wells tap into super heated water reservoirs thousands of feet beneath the Earth’s surface to release tremendous pressure, caused by the hot water, which rushes to the surface. There, steam is separated and used to drive turbines to generate electricity. Eight of the Imperial Valley facilities – Vulcan, Hoch, Elmore, Leathers and Salton Sea 1, 2, 3 and 4 – are under contract to sell power to Southern California Edison Company under 30-year power purchase agreements. Salton Sea 5 and the CE Turbo plant sell virtually all of their power to third parties. The combined capacity at Imperial Valley is approximately 327 net megawatts (nominal).
The Power Resources facility is a natural gas-fueled cogeneration project located near Big Spring, Texas. Power Resources has a net capacity of approximately 212 megawatts, and is located near some of the largest gas fields in the United States and traditionally the country’s lowest gas prices.
The Saranac facility is a natural gas-fueled cogeneration project in Plattsburgh, New York. Saranac’s net capacity is approximately 240 megawatts. Saranac provides electricity to the New York Independent System Operator through EDF Trading North America, LLC and steam to Georgia-Pacific Corporation. The project also sells natural gas transportation to New York State Electric Gas Corporation and Georgia-Pacific Corporation through its wholly owned North Country Gas Pipeline. Saranac is strategically connected, via the 22-mile North Country Gas Pipeline, to TransCanada’s gas transportation network.
The Yuma cogeneration facility uses natural gas to fuel its turbine, producing both electric and thermal (steam) energy. The exhaust from the gas turbine waste heat that would otherwise dissipate into the atmosphere is recycled into a heat recovery steam generator (boiler) and high-pressure steam is produced, which drives the steam turbine. Then, a portion of the steam is extracted and delivered to the thermal host – an industrial entity located adjacent to the power plant – which uses the steam for processing and cooling. This method of utilizing steam that has already performed useful work increases the efficiency of the plant and maximizes fuel use. CalEnergy Generation’s Yuma cogeneration plant provides approximately 50 net megawatts to San Diego Gas & Electric Company under a 30-year power purchase agreement and provides steam to Shaw Industries Group, Inc. under a steam sales agreement.
Check out a CalEnergy geothermal power plant here:
BHE Renewables – Solar
Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power.
BHE Renewables – Solar Projects
Topaz Solar Farms
In January 2012, BHE Renewables completed its acquisition of Topaz Solar Farms from First Solar. The 550-megawatt photovoltaic power plant, which began construction in November 2011, is located in San Luis Obispo County, California, and is one of the largest single solar projects in the world. The project is synchronized to the California ISO grid, moving California another step closer to achieving its mandate to generate 33 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020. Pacific Gas and Electric Company purchases the electricity from the project under a 25-year power purchase agreement.
Solar Star Projects
Construction began in the first quarter of 2013, ultimately culminating in 2015. Southern California Edison purchases electricity from the projects under two long-term power purchase contracts.
In January 2012, BHE Renewables completed its acquisition of a 49 percent interest in the 290-megawatt Agua Caliente solar project from NRG Energy. Headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey, NRG Energy is the project-s majority owner, having acquired 100 percent of the project from First Solar on August 5, 2011. The project, based in Yuma County, Arizona, is one of the world’s largest operating photovoltaic power plants. The Agua Caliente project is fully operational and delivering electricity to the grid. Pacific Gas and Electric Company purchases electricity from the project under a 25-year power purchase agreement.
Check out a solar farm here:
BHE Renewables – Hydro
Hydropower or water power is power derived from the energy of falling water or fast running water. Since ancient times, hydropower from many kinds of watermills has been used as a renewable energy source for irrigation and the operation of various mechanical devices, such as gristmills, sawmills, textile mills, trip hammers, dock cranes, domestic lifts, and ore mills.
BHE Renewables – Hydro Projects
BHE Renewables owns the 10-megawatt Wailuku hydroelectric generation project, which is located at the junction of the Wailuku River and the Kalohewahewa Stream on the eastern coast of the island of Hawaii.
The Wailuku project is a run-of-river project that operates without dams or other obstructions to the natural flow of the river. The project consists of three diversion structures, which are approximately 2,000 feet above sea level. A pipeline feeds water from the Kalohewahewa Stream intakes to the Wailuku River diversion from which a 60-inch pipeline, 14,760 feet in length, feeds water to the powerhouse. The powerhouse includes two horizontal shaft Pelton 5-megawatt turbines. Power generated at the project is transmitted over a 5,100 foot long transmission line and interconnected to Hawaii Electric Light Company’s electric system.
The as-available electricity produced by the Wailuku independent power project is purchased by Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc. under a long-term power purchase agreement.
Check out a hydroelectric plant here:
In 2012 and as part of the Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s expansion into the nonregulated renewables market, a primary subsidiary – MidAmerican Renewables, LLC – was created to oversee nonregulated wind, geothermal, solar and hydro projects. Based in Des Moines, Iowa, MidAmerican Renewables encompasses MidAmerican Wind, LLC; MidAmerican Geothermal, LLC; MidAmerican Solar, LLC; and MidAmerican Hydro, LLC.
MidAmerican Renewables owns solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric projects that produce energy for both the wholesale market and for customers under long-term power agreements.
MidAmerican Renewables – Solar
1,271 megawatt capacity. Currently emerging as an industry leader.
MidAmerican Renewables – Wind
381 megawatt capacity. Operates three unregulated wind-powered generation projects.
MidAmerican Renewables – Geothermal
327 megawatt capacity. Owns 10 geothermal facilities in California’s Imperial Valley.
MidAmerican Renewables – Hydro
5 megawatt capacity. Through Hawaii’s Wailuku hydroelectric facility, able to produce 10 megawatts of electricity.