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MidAmerican Energy acquisition could bring benefits to wind in the US Northwest

The purchase of PacifiCorp by MidAmerican Energy will not affect the Portland-based utility's plans to add more wind power to its supply mix. In fact, the $9.4 billion sale could bring benefits to the wind industry in the US Northwest. PacifiCorp's Jan Mitchell says the two companies will operate independently and that PacifiCorp remains committed to adding 1400 MW of renewable resources by 2013. "What's nice is that our environmental records are very similar," says Mitchell. MidAmerican, an asset of mega-investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc, earned a Utility Leadership Award at this year's American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) conference. PacifiCorp took that honour last year. With PacifiCorp facing $5 billion in transmission and generation investments in the next five years, MidAmerican is seen as a natural fit, primarily because Buffett is known for emphasising long term growth rather than short term payouts. PacifiCorp's grid serving its Wyoming service territory lies tantalisingly close to MidAmerican's grid in the same region, offering the theoretical possibility of connecting the two, thus enabling wind power generated in the upper Great Plains to be sent into the Northwest and California. But Mitchell says that with regulatory approvals expected to take at least a year, it is far too early to consider that possibility. The purchase requires federal approval, as well as consent from the six states where PacifiCorp does business. The purchase does not affect PacifiCorp affiliate PPM Energy, a wind power marketer and leading US wind plant owner, which remains a holding of ScottishPower.

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