MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett's investment company, made its first move into solar with the acquisition of First Solar's Topaz Solar Farm, one of the two largest projects in the world.
The more than $2 billion power plant in California's San Luis Obispo County will be able to produce 550 megawatts of energy, enough to power about 160,000 California homes. Construction began last month and is expected to be completed by early 2015.
The purchase for an undisclosed sum complements MidAmerican Energy Holding's current assets in wind farms. "This project also demonstrates that solar energy is a commercially viable technology without the support of governmental loan guarantees and reflects the type of solar and other renewable generation that MidAmerican will continue to seek to add to its unregulated portfolio," said MidAmerican Energy Holdings CEO Greg Abel in a statement.
First Solar will build the plant and maintain it once it's operating. Because of a state renewable energy mandate, utility Pacific Gas & Electric has signed an agreement to purchase power from the plant for 25 years.
In addition to investing in wind, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is an investor in BYD, a Chinese lithium ion battery manufacturer. The company is making batteries for electric vehicles and potentially for storing renewable energy.