Portland manufacturer will anchor industrial park powered by renewable energy in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A firm owned by billionaire businessman Warren Buffett has partnered with the state of West Virginia to buy land for use as an industrial park powered by renewable energy, Gov. Jim Justice announced Tuesday.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s BHE Renewables is purchasing and developing more than 2,000 acres in Ravenswood, the Republican governor said.

Another Buffett-owned company, Portland-based industrial manufacturer Precision Castparts, will be the first business to locate on the site and will help anchor the project. Precision Castparts will build a facility that will use renewable energy to make titanium products for the aerospace and other industries.

Separate statements by Justice and Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia did not specify how many jobs were involved in Tuesday’s announcement. PCC Metals President Steve Wright said it would number in the hundreds.

The announcement is a move by coal-dependent West Virginia to strengthen and diversity its economy by investing in renewable energy.

“This is a monumental announcement that will pay dividends for generations to come,” Justice said.

Justice signed a bill passed by lawmakers on Monday that would establish a program to incentivize businesses that want to use renewable energy to come to the state or expand operations.

The bill allowed for the establishment of two districts where a cluster of businesses have the opportunity to generate and share renewable energy on-site. The districts would not be subject to the jurisdiction of the state Public Service Commission. The districts must be on land sold or leased by a state or municipality or on land previously used for coal mining.

Precision Castparts was Oregon’s second-largest company before Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought the business for $37 billion in 2016. It was the largest deal ever for an Oregon company and remains Buffett’s biggest outright acquisition.

However, Precision Castparts’ sales were flat in the years following the deal. They fell sharply beginning in 2020 amid declining demand for air travel during the pandemic and flight safety issues at Boeing, a key Precision Castparts’ customer. Buffett later admitted paying far too much for the Portland company.

— The Associated Press

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *