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Warren Buffett’s PacifiCorp is allocating $3.5 billion for wind and solar power projects, the company said. The projects include an upgrade of 900 MW of existing wind power capacity and the construction of another 3 GW of wind and power facilities, of which 1.1 GW wind capacity in Wyoming and Oregon.
At the moment, PacifiCorp generates almost two-thirds of its electricity from coal, so the announcement represents a major commitment to renewable energy at the expense of coal at a time when the White House is working to make fossil fuels great again.
The company said earlier this year, however, that it is making an effort to utilize its coal-fired capacity more efficiently, which allowed it to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12 percent last year, from its five-year average as of 2016.
The investment plan, to be completed by 2020, is the first stage of a long-term clean energy program that will run until 2036, PacifiCorp also said. Some of the later initiatives include constructing 1.04 GW of new solar power capacity and 859 MW of wind power capacity between 2028 and 2036.
PacifiCorp noted in its statement that the major clean energy expansion aims to not just diversify power generation into more environmentally friendly sources, but also to provide the company’s clients with cheaper energy.
Indeed, the cost effectiveness of wind and solar power is being increasingly used by renewable energy providers, and a growing number of investors are being won by the argument. Existing tax credits, most notably the production tax credit (PTC), is what keeps costs low, as well as the tax rebate per kilowatt hour. These help wind compete with natural gas as a cheap source of electricity and has driven the surge of utility interest in harnessing wind power, despite the much-touted promises of President Donald Trump to bring back American coal.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.