Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Final Twist

On Tuesday, something quite interesting happened... Yet hardly anyone noticed. We're about to correct that today. So pay close attention to this.

On Tuesday, SB 390 passed unanimously. Remember that SB 390 aims to regulate oil and natural gas fracking in Nevada. If most Assembly Members and Governor Brian Sandoval (R) soon concur, then the State of Nevada will begin to fill the oversight void left when then President George W. Bush exempted fracking from numerous federal environmental and health safety laws. But of course, this still falls far short of the full fracking ban pursued by CREDO Action and many other environmental activists.

What's further complicated this issue is SB 123. NV Energy's NVision has run into controversy for several reasons, but at least some have been asking what NV Energy's proposal for more natural gas power plants means for future fracking in Nevada. While the matter of fracking still hasn't directly been addressed by NV Energy, SB 123 was revised again to pare back new natural gas power plant proposals before passing the full Senate earlier this month.

But yesterday, we saw an entirely new twist to this story. All of a sudden, a new player emerged at the very last minute. And now, Carson City is abuzz over the news of multi-billionaire super-investor Warren Buffett stepping in to buy NV Energy.

"I've spoken to Warren Buffett, (NV Energy president and CEO) Michael Yackira and (chairman of the board) Phil Satre, and it is not often I have been as enthused about a deal as I am now,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. ”I am elated. It is really good news for Nevada that Warren Buffett wants to invest $5.5 billion in our state. He told me that he loves Nevada and now has an excuse to come here more often."

According to a news release, under the terms of the agreement, MidAmerican will purchase all outstanding shares of NV Energy’s common stock for $23.75 per share in cash. The transaction, which has been unanimously approved by both companies’ boards of directors, has an enterprise value of approximately $10 billion.

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval of the transaction by NV Energy’s shareholders and the receipt of required state and federal approvals. The transaction is currently expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2014.

So what happens now? So far, both SB 123 and SB 390 seem to be on track for final passage. In fact, SB 390 has an Assembly hearing this afternoon.

And so far, Warren Buffett has shown interest in divesting from fossil fuels & investing in renewable energy. Was he noticing NVision & SB 123 when deciding to buy NV Energy? What does he want NVision to look like in the future?

And let's not forget what triggered all this in the first place. NV Energy was facing increasing pressure to shut down the Reid-Gardner Coal Plant near Moapa. At the same time, the company wants to cash in on Nevada's burgeoning green economy. Oh, and then there's that whole matter of the greatest global security threat of our time.

We've seen so many twists and turns as we've been tracking on the intersection of renewable energy policy, NV Energy's business plan, and fossil fuel fracking, and climate change. And now, we have the final twist provided by Warren Buffett. This should be fun.

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