Billionaire investor Warren Buffett sees dollar signs in Nevada. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has made a $10 billion offer to acquire NV Energy, Inc., a deal that would create what has been called the largest utility holding company in the U.S. The acquisition, through Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary MidAmerican Energy Holdings, is expected to be completed in early 2014.
MidAmerican Energy Holdings already owns several large energy and utility companies, including namesake MidAmerican Energy Company, MidAmerican Renewables, PacifiCorp and Northern Natural Gas. NV Energy has two main subsidiaries, Nevada Power Company and Sierra Pacific Power Company, both of which operate under the NV brand name. The deal, if approved by regulators, would add another 2.4 million customers to Berkshire Hathaway's energy rolls.
"This is a great fit for Berkshire Hathaway," Buffett said in a press release when the deal was announced in May. "We are pleased to make a long-term investment in Nevada's economy."
Buffett isn't the only one excited about the deal. Nevada Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, sent a letter (pdf) to the Federal Energy Regulation Commission last month saying the acquisition would be good for the state's economy while providing more green energy sources. "This matter will impact Nevada's clean energy future and is important to investments in the infrastructure necessary to integrate greater amounts of clean energy into our grid," Reid wrote. "MidAmerican has extensive experience building clean, efficient generation and transmission and they have committed to deploying this experience to the benefit of Nevadans." He also said the deal would provide "new access to capital for clean energy projects," as well as Mid American's expertise.
NV Energy isn't waiting for the acquisition to close to explore new technologies, though. Last month it rolled out a new program called mPowered which is designed to cut ratepayers' electricity use by constantly monitoring indoor and outdoor temperatures to get maximum efficiency out of air conditioners during the hot summer months. The company told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that mPowered will save customers an average of 10 to 15 percent on their annual heating and cooling costs.
Earlier, Nevada's legislature passed a bill to move away from coal-fired power plants, a shift that would benefit NV Energy, which gets more of its electricity from natural gas and renewable sources. Reid also supported that bill.
Following the acquisition announcement, NV Energy's stock was upgraded to a "strong buy" by Zacks Investment Research. Berkshire Hathaway is offering $23.75 per share for the company, which actually closed above that at $23.76 on Wednesday, August 8. The stock was trading as low as $19.28 before the deal was announced in May.
Also on MNN: