In late May, Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Co. claimed it was about to become the first U.S. utility with 100 percent renewable energy. It was a little premature and perhaps a bit misleading.
When challenged a few weeks later, Greg Abel, a vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, which controls MidAmerican, admitted “Maybe we tried to simplify it too much.” The claim hinged on a 2,000-megawatt wind farm that would give the utility all the power its customers consume over a year… but only while the wind is blowing. It will still operate coal plants when the winds doesn’t cooperate.
MidAmerican said its commitment to 100 percent renewable energy is real, but would not deny it would still deliver fossil-based power.
He’s not the only executive owning up to a far-fetched claim. More and more companies are being forced to admit to greenwashing—the disparaging term for gushing corporate sustainability claims with a tenuous grip on reality.
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