Energy

Hillary Touts Green Handouts And Warren Buffett Comes A Callin’

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been backed by a billionaire investor who stands to benefit from the presidential candidate’s plan to hand out more green energy subsidies.

Liberal billionaire Warren Buffett backed Clinton in December 2015, calling for more taxes on wealthy people. Buffett controls one of the world’s largest company’s, Berkshire Hathaway, and is the third richest man in the world. He owns several energy companies that benefit from green energy subsidies and tax breaks.

Clinton’s plans to address global warming are based around building “half a billion” solar panels as well as extending green energy tax credits. Hillary stated that she will “make the production tax credit for wind and solar permanent.”

Buffett has previously taken advantage of these tax credits, and could do so again. The Motley Fool, a finance blog, estimated if Berkshire Hathaway Energy were to invest another $15 billion into solar projects today, the company would receive $4.5 billion in tax write-offs over five years, or $900 million annually, if Clinton’s plan to extend the tax credits was enacted.

“I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate,” Buffett told an audience in Omaha, Nebraska in 2014. “For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

Buffett has directly donated to Clinton’s campaign and even helped her SuperPAC raise $11 million. He has been a major critic of SuperPACs, but still made his first ever political donation to a pro-Hillary PAC.

Clinton’s plans to address global warming are based around building “half a billion” solar panels and repeatedly voted for legislation that extended green energy tax credits and gave tax breaks to green energy investors when she was a senator.

“It always comes down to money,” Jeff Matthews, an investor and author of books about Buffett’s company, told Bloomberg. “It’s legal to lobby and it’s legal to push your agenda, so he’s going to push his agenda even if it looks kind of hypocritical.”

Buffett’s company has a market capitalization of more than $335 billion and has been has been moving into green energy since 1999. It has invested $15 billion into solar and wind projects in 2014 and Buffett himself claims “there’s another $15 billion ready to go, as far as I’m concerned.” Buffett’s energy empire includes major utilities, power transmission companies, and some of the world’s largest solar panel projects.

Buffett isn’t afraid to use lobbyists to peruse his corporate interests, even against fellow liberal billionaire Elon Musk. He scored a major lobbying win in December, when a utility he owns convinced the state of Nevada to impose rules on solar power that harmed Musk and benefited him. Musk lost roughly $165 million in a single day as a result of the policy shift, which allowed Buffett’s company to increase its monthly service charges for solar customers from $12.75 to $17.90 next year and reimburse people with rooftop solar panels 75 percent less.

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