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Warren Buffet

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  • Invested $31 billion in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with a portion of this money being used to combat global warming and promote alternative energy.
  • Investing in wind farms

Buffett used to love coal. His involvement with it began when Berkshire Hathaway bought MidAmerican Energy Holdings in 1999. MidAmerican was a big operator of coal plants, and with natural gas prices edging toward a huge leap upwards -- bringing coal back into favor -- it appeared to be a typically savvy Buffett move.

In 2006, Buffett picked up another utility, PacifiCorp, which includes Rocky Mountain Power and operates in Calif., Idaho, Ore., Utah, Wash., and Wyo. Again, it seemed like a smart play, bringing MidAmerican's expertise with building and running coal plants to a region of the country with lots of coal. Sure enough, in the fall of 2006, PacifiCorp presented regulators with plans [PDF] for six (or, in some scenarios, seven) coal plants in Utah and Wyo. over the next 12-year time period, representing approximately 3,000 megawatts of new capacity.

Today, PacifiCorp is talking about a lot of ways of supplying future electricity demand growth: geothermal, wind, solar thermal trough, compressed air storage, geothermal, demand management programs, and natural gas. But all six new coal plants have vanished from the company's "preferred scenario."

 

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