Warren Buffet invests $200mn in wind power plant in Alberta
A new wind power plant near Medicine Hat, Alberta will generate 117.6MW of renewable power by 2020
A new 117.6-megawatt wind farm has been announced for development in Alberta next year, the project is funded by BHE Canada, an investment firm linked with U.S investor Warren Buffet.
The Rattlesnake Ridge Wind project will be southwest of Medicine Hat in Alberta and will be able to produce power for up to 79,000 homes, according to a release from BHE Canada, a subsidiary of Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
"We felt that it was time to make an investment here in Alberta," said Bill Christensen, vice-president of corporate development for BHE Canada, in an interview with the Calgary Eyeopener. The structure of the markets here in Alberta make it so that we can invest, and do it at a profit that works for us, and at a price that works for the off-taker," Christensen explained.
Berkshire Hathaway Energy is set to increase its already significant 85% stake in the energy production and supply of homes in the Alberta area.
The corporate partner working with BHE Canada has yet to be named but it has been confirmed that it has already signed a long-term power purchase agreement for the majority of the potential energy output, generated by the 28 turbines at the Rattelsnake Ridge site.
"If you look at just the raw power price that power is going for in Alberta right now, it's averaged around $55 a megawatt hour, or 5.5 cents a kilowatt hour. And we're selling the wind power to this customer at substantially less than that, and there's been no subsidies," Christensen said.
Christensen has stated he has high expectation for the area’s renewable energy prospects, not just in wind but in solar power as well, particularly in the southeastern region of Alberta. Although there are high hopes for the renewable energy industry, BHE Canada has also expressed interest in more traditional power solutions in the area.
"It's not a choice of one or the other. I think there is still opportunity to make investments in oil and gas," he said. "We're really excited about having this project and hope to be able to make other investments here in Alberta to help support the economy here."
UK-based Renewable Energy Systems (RES) will be overseeing the construction of the project and is currently working on two other wind plants in Alberta. The projects already in development are set to generate 134.6MW this year, which RES can add to its pre-existing portfolio of 750MW installed or under construction across Canada.
BHE Canada and RES are still looking for further potential investment from energy buyers and are toting the project’s final capacity of 398.5MW to be one of the largest wind power projects in the country.
How innovation is transforming government
According to Washington Technology’s Top 100 list, Leidos is the largest IT provider to the government. But as Lieutenant General William J. Bender explains, “that barely scratches the surface” of the company’s portfolio and drive for innovation.
Bender, who spent three and a half decades in the military, including a stint as the U.S. Air Force’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), has seen action in the field and in technology during that time, and it runs in the family. Bender’s son is an F-16 instructor pilot. So it stands to reason Bender Senior intends to ensure a thriving technological base for the U.S. Air Force. “What we’re really doing here is transforming the federal government from the industrial age into the information age and doing it hand-in-hand with industry,” he says.
The significant changes that have taken place in the wider technology world are precisely the capabilities Leidos is trying to pilot the U.S. Air Force through. It boils down to developing cyberspace as a new domain of battle, globally connected and constantly challenged by the threat of cybersecurity attacks.
“We recognize the importance of the U.S. Air Force’s missions,” says Bender, “and making sure they achieve those missions. We sit side-by-side with the air combat command, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance infrastructure across the Air Force. There are multiple large programs where the Air Force is partnering with Leidos to ensure their mission is successfully accomplished 24/7/365. In this company, we’re all in on making sure there’s no drop in capability.”
That partnership relies on a shared understanding of delivering successful national security outcomes, really understanding the mission at hand, and Leidos’ long-standing relationship of over 50 years with the federal government.
To look at where technology is going, Bender thinks it is important to look back at the last 10 to 15 years. “What we’ve seen is a complete shift in how technology gets developed,” he says. “It used to be that the government invested aggressively in research and development, and some of those technologies, once they were launched in a military context, would find their way into the commercial space. That has shifted almost a hundred percent now, where the bulk of the research and development dollars and the development of tech-explicit technologies takes place in the commercial sector.”
“There’s a long-standing desire to adopt commercial technology into defense applications, but it’s had a hard time crossing the ‘valley of death’ [government slang for commercial technologies and partnerships that fail to effectively transition into government missions]. Increasingly we’re able to do that. We need to look at open architectures and open systems for a true plug-and-play capability. Instead of buying it now and trying to guess what it’s going to be used for 12 years from now, it should be evolving iteratively.”