MidAmerican CEO says U.S. needs an energy policy
By Andy Giegerich
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Greg Abel, Warren Buffett’s top energy adviser doesn’t expect any changes in U.S. energy policy, no matter who wins the November presidential election. And he thinks that’s a big mistake.
Warren Buffett’s top energy adviser doesn’t expect any changes in U.S. energy policy, no matter who wins the November presidential election.
And that’s a big mistake, said Greg Abel, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.
“When you talk about what would happen with the current administration or with (Republican) Mitt Romney, and whether they can get it through the House and Senate, I don’t see it happening in the next term,” Abel said. “We’ll end up with a lot of patchwork that’s hard on the industry
“It’s a real detriment to the country.”
Abel spoke to more than 300 business leaders at a Power Breakfast hosted Thursday by the Portland Business Journal.
He said President Barack Obama would favor wind industry incentives that could help some of his firm’s holdings.
MidAmerican is the parent company of the Portland-based utilities Pacific Power and PacifiCorp.
“But it needs to be a succinct number of incentives,” he said. “That will be a challenge.”
And while Romney has ideas that could enhance the energy industry’s competitiveness, “He’s not there yet,” Abel said. “I’d prefer to see the policies stay in place, but on the emission side, we need to be sensitive. If we jump too quickly by eliciting too many reductions (in carbon energy uses), the changes could be significant.”
Abel is a key adviser to Warren Buffett. He also works with Berkshire board member Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder. Gates has told Abel that if he started in business today, he’d go into medicine or energy.
Gates frequently discusses issues such as cleaner coal, including the challenge of sequestering emissions and finding companies to take on production and distribution risks. He’s also interested in small nuclear reactors and he’s optimistic about battery technology.
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