NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- How would you like a monopoly on something people have to have, a simple distribution business that may change but will probably never go out of style?Warren Buffett would. The Berkshire-Hathaway (BKR.A) chairman signed off last week on the $5.6 billion purchase of NV Energy (NVE), writes Bloomberg, giving those shareholders a 23% pop and making Berkshire the largest owner of electric utility accounts in the country.
The result has been a series of battles, with utilities demanding that rooftop providers pay them for use of the lines. It's marked by alarmist reports such as this from Douglas Short at the Energy Collective predicting PG&E (PGE) -- the utility most impacted right now by rooftop solar -- could go under without relief from these distribution costs. Yet, amid all this doom and gloom, Berkshire is rushing in. Why? One reason is a new Department of Energy policy, FERC 890, which assures a return for investments in energy storage. Storage allows utilities to maintain a steady stream of power to customers when they're buying "variable" inputs like solar or wind energy. It's also becoming a growth center for utilities like AES (AES), which serves the Midwest.