Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican buys massive Topaz solar farm

Warren Buffet’s power company, MidAmerican Energy Holdings, is jumping into solar power and plans to buy up a massive solar farm from First Solar(s FSLR). The planned 550 MW solar panel farm called Topaz is in San Luis Obispo County in central California.

The move is the latest step on the long road to the solar farm actually getting built; it was originally owned by OptiSolar back in 2009. First Solar will build, operate and maintain Topaz, and the sale must be a huge relief for the solar panel maker and project developer, which was able to secure federal loan guarantees for three projects but couldn’t close one for Topaz. It started construction last month and plans to complete it in early 2015.

The project will cost “more than $2 billion,” the companies said, and MidAmerican doesn’t need to borrow money to close the deal.

The purchase represents MidAmerican’s foray into solar energy and reflects the growing interest of traditional energy company to add more solar generation to their portfolio. The Iowa-based company owned or held contracts to buy 22,000 MW of power by the end of 2010, the company said. The company’s renewable energy assets include wind and geothermal power plants.

The company, which is controlled by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (s BRK-A), also owns utilities, including one that serves customers in Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota and Nebraska. Its other utility, PacifiCorp, serves parts of Oregon, Washington and California. But power from Topaz will go to Pacific Gas and Electric to serve customers in central and northern California.

Photo courtesy of First Solar