Renewable energy to power new West Virginia industrial site

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — 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 (800 hectares) in Ravenswood, the Republican governor said.

A business of Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway, Precision Castparts Corp., will be the first to locate there. Precision Castparts will build a facility that will use renewable energy to make titanium products for the aerospace and other industries, Justice said.

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.