Updated to include GE chief financial officer comments starting in fifth paragraph and added data
After buying into two big solar projects being built by First Solar (FSLR) in December, Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.B) MidAmerican Energy is increasing its wind energy portfolio -- an area in which it is already a U.S. leader -- taking advantage of multi-decade power purchase agreements (PPAs) from regulated utilities.
Buffett's investment in Bishop Hill II and previous deals for solar plants comes at a time when the alternative energy industry faces significant headwinds, including falling power prices, lower government subsidies and a European slowdown. Wind energy investment fell 17% in the U.S. to $21.6 billion in the fourth quarter, while wind generation fell for the first time in a decade in 2011, according to Bloomberg data. Previously, the industry had seen greater than double-digit annual growth.
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