In a rare interview this week, Billionaire CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett discussed his reason for successfully lobbying for a change in net metering in Nevada, where Buffett owns the state’s largest electric utility, that effectively stopped the growth of residential solar installations in the state.
Net metering rules regulate the amount of credit homeowners with solar panels get when exporting surplus energy generated from their installation back onto the utility grid, which the utility can then sell to other customers.
In late 2013, Berkshire Hathaway’s energy group bought Nevada’s largest public utility, NV Energy. It benefits from a virtual monopoly on energy in the Las Vegas valley, which makes it a very succesful business with over $12 billion in assets and over $100 million in annual net income.
For years now, the organisation has been lobbying the state’s Public Utilities Commission to approve a 75% reduction of the price electric utilities pay for electricity generated from rooftop solar, which it eventually managed to do in December 2015.
The new rule makes net-metering uneconomical and “effectively shut down” the homeowner and 3rd party-owned rooftop solar industry in Nevada, giving a monopoly to utility-owned systems. Solar installers in the state are shutting down their businesses because homeowners are not even considering the option to go solar under the current net metering rules.
Here you can watch Warren Buffett’s explanation (timestamp starts at 3:16 so you don’t have to listen to him talk about his oil investments):
His logic is simple, he wants to have to pay wholesale electricity rates for the energy generated by rooftop solar instead of the same price NV Energy is charging these customers since he says it will penalized customers without solar panels.
Of course, the more accurate explanation is that it will indeed penalize other customers because NV Energy was planning on making them pay the difference instead of biting the bullet. Most homeowners connected to the grid would have agreed to an increase in order to contribute to the cost of maintaining the grid, but a direct 40% increase, which will soon double, is simply the end of solar in Nevada, until off-grid solutions become available.
Rooftop-solar systems owners initiated a class action lawsuit against the company. The plaintiffs seeks restitution for what they call “anti-competitive actions, deceptive and unfair trade practices, monopolization over the electric utility in Nevada, price discrimination and artificial price inflation.”
They claim that the company provided false and/or incomplete information to the PUC in order for it to approve the net metering changes.
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.
Used to like Warren Buffet.
Ditto, I liked him in the past; now I don’t like him any more. I will recommend to everyone to sell off anything they own associated with Warren & Brockshire.
Warren forgot to say he is keeping the daytime power also, And charging a 200 percent increase to solar people to be connected on the grid, which wipes out the 2 cents he is paying for power, and selling back at 11 cents for day or night use, even though your producing in the day time. What a crook!
He looks sick, maybe we dont need to wait a long time.
This is bullsh*t! He killed rooftop solar because it was a threat to his energy monopoly. This a case of that folksy charm being real misleading. This guy is a wolf in in uber sheep clothing.
Agreed! And very angry about this. He is doing negative PR and it will bite him in the arse! He is against what’s best for society.
that’s the thing. he admits that encouraging solar is good for society, yet his actions are undoubtedly armful to solar.
Wow, I had always liked Warren Buffet. I guess he doesn’t give a damn about society, pollution or doing what is best. He only cares about maximizing profit at society’s expense. Shame on Warren. I now put him with the ranks of the Koch brothers.
This sounds like what has happened to most of Australia, and yet it’s still cheaper to put on solar due to the very high electricity costs.
We need to start a national boycott of alkaline companies he had stock in!
I love the guy, but this is wrong! And evil
This is evil! Shame on Warren Buffett. Where’s a list of all his companies so that we can #boycott #warrenbuffett.
Scratch an American capitalist and you’ll find a thief in a three-piece suit. Once again we see the evils inherent in government enforced monopolies.
So it is true the billionaires want to control the 99% of us with their money and purchased politicians.
They will only delay their power plant demise unless they get their purchased politicians to pass laws taxing the Sunlight. Don’t worry I am sure they will try but I think the people will revolt in mass if they succeed in the short term they will surely loose in the long term.
Warren is basically right. Net metering is a scam that hurts all the non-solar customers.
I don’t trust the numbers, though. Everyone is going to manipulate them in a way to maximize their benefit. It’s the job of the PUC to sort the claims out fairly, and I’m not sure they did.
The. I guess non-solar customers should go solar.
Right! Tax dirty fuel to help all customers get clean solar. Why are our lungs being used to clean their dirty fuel?
I’m done with this guy, he’s now on my sh(t list.
Forget Buffett. Buy spare batteries to store the solar energy and become independent from energy suppliers.
Once again mega buck millionaires and billionaires put their business interests above the environment and ahead of humanity and the planet.
He forgot to say they steal the daytime use also, And make the solar people pay 200 percent extra as a grid fee.
At best, Warran Buffett is exaggerating; at worst, he is LYING.
He does NOT pay solar homeowners 10.5¢ per kWh. The only transaction taking place is that he TRADES, straight across, his dirty polluting kWh at night for our clean, renewable kWh generated in the day. So who is getting the better deal in that one-for-one swap?
Even worse, in my case at the end of March every year, he CONFISCATES any excess, un-swapped solar kWh and SELLS them to my neighbors at the full rate –even though he hasn’t burned one lump of coal or generated one electron for the sale. To date, that amounts to 6,982 kWh that he has confiscated from me for FREE, and sold for approximately $625 to my neighbors.
That he would now want to FINE me for making that “donation” adds insult to injury.
He also doesn’t sell you power at $.04 / Kwh! He sell you at retail.
So what he’s saying is: “Hell NO, you can’t profit from your investments, Only I can profit from investments.”
Warren made a bad bet buying a dying industry but the big nuke in the sky is free, batteries are already cheap as are clean fueled generators/heater cogen for 24-7 power.
And their charges pays to buy the batteries and generator making going offgrid about $.06/kwhr retail which the utility can’t compete with. Lithium needs to be under $200/kwhr but lead is under $100/kwhr and by the time you need to replace them, lithium will have dropped by 50% or more retail.
Home, building solar gives the utilities 2 things they need most, peak power that perfectly follows A/C peaks and offpeak demand with the utility making good money both ways. Yet they call it a cost!!
What utilities should do is sell solar, wind, cogen systems to homeowners, etc and cut the most costly, inflexible generation first, cut debt and just become a wire company that transports and bills for other’s power.
But most of the country, world will end up in microgrids or smaller as they don’t have the corporation, etc costs of utilities or FF’s, thus costing 50% as much.
The clean power, fuel techs that are coming will be even more cost effective with many supplying heat too.
Just a cogen heater/generator fast charging batteries on clean fuels or NG or other heating fuel up north is a base and add whatever other RE you have to it, cutting engine run time even more.
It’s not as hard as most people think going offgrid.
Rooftop solar is a good thing (grid-tied or off) but companies like Solar City are parasites, reselling solar panels on long term credit (they lock you in at today’s solar prices even as solar prices drop) and cashing in on public regulation of state utility prices (they profit from tax dollars meant to diversify the grid and keep electricity prices low for everyone).
So, lets all go solar & wind. LETS PAY 10x our current bills. WILL YOU BE HAPPY THEN YOU ALL MIGHTY KNOWING ALL ENVIRONMENTALISTS?
Forgot to take your meds George? If you want to pay more for polluting power that is your problem and soon you’ll be paying even more as the full cost of FF’s is in them.
Since I can go offgrid for under $.06/kwhr retail , under $1.5k/kw on solar, battery and generator/heater, how is that 10x’s as much?
Actually utilities can’t compete thus why they are upset as they are going bankrupt as their demand shrinks.
And anyone can get it for some studying, buying the parts like sunelec and have a local electrician permit, install at that price, rate. Then almost free for 25 yrs.
Please explain to me how utilities can compete with that?
Unfortunately Warren Buffett does not mention that most of Nevada power is generated by fossil carbon based fuels from coal and natural gas which a carbon tax should be added. Why when in one of America’s greatest area’s for solar electric power generation? We must lead by example or money will not matter soon Warren, this is a global issue not local.
Warren Buffet. He who likes to create monopolies. What does he call it? Building moats or something? Well, this will end too when battery prices drop enough so that people can wean themselves off the grid. He is just buying time. And him and these companies resisting change can go the way of the dinosaur. Hopefully he dies the painful death he deserves.