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Berkshire Hathaway gas and power unit urges US incentives to support clean energy

Highlights

Tax regime should be equitable across sector, it says

Several LNG carbon capture projects being proposed

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, a major investor in US energy infrastructure and operator of the Cove Point LNG export terminal in Maryland, is putting its weight behind an industry push for passage of new legislation that would provide additional tax incentives for clean energy projects.

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Many see such incentives as critical to the viability of carbon capture and storage initiatives that are being proposed or considered by facilities that process shale gas or use it as a feedstock to produce LNG and generate electricity.

In a statement July 26 supporting the framework for a bipartisan US infrastructure bill that would put $579 billion in new funds into transportation, broadband and utilities, a Berkshire Hathaway energy affiliate said it hopes that additional legislation will be approved that includes tax incentives to spur further investment in clean energy generation, transmission and energy storage.

"Those incentives should be available to both utilities and energy developers equally without the impediment of current tax normalization restrictions; a robust competitive landscape helps drive down costs and allows the industry to provide affordable service to customers," the company said. "We support eligibility criteria that includes emerging technologies like advanced nuclear and other carbon-free generation sources that can be deployed in a cost-effective and reliable manner."

Berkshire Hathaway Energy said it shares the Biden administration's goal of further reducing carbon emissions.

Under current law, carbon capture and underground storage projects must be completed first for existing tax credits to kick in. The credits only last for 12 years and are not refundable.

Despite financial and technology hurdles, US liquefaction operators and developers have increasingly embraced carbon capture as a viable option for cutting their carbon emissions, amid the global energy transition toward greater use of clean-burning fuels.

Venture Global LNG said in May it had launched a carbon capture and storage project that would compress CO2 at its Calcasieu Pass export terminal in southwest Louisiana and its proposed up to 20 million mt/year Plaquemines LNG export facility south of New Orleans, then transport the CO2 and inject it deep into subsurface saline aquifers, where it would be permanently stored. The project would be designed to capture 500,000 tons of carbon per year from Calcasieu Pass and Plaquemines LNG.

Earlier, in March, NextDecade announced it was launching development of a project that it expected to capture and store more than 5 million mt/year of CO2 that would be produced by its proposed Rio Grande LNG export facility in Texas.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy's portfolio has grown to cover $127.5 billion in assets, including electric and natural gas utilities in the US. It also has operations in Great Britain and Canada.

Berkshire became the operator of Cove Point as part of its acquisition last year of substantially all of Dominion Energy's gas pipeline and storage assets. Dominion retains a 50% passive ownership in the liquefaction terminal.