Wind Power and T. Boone Pickens

Okay so there’s this guy named T. Boone Pickens. Some name, huh? You may have heard of him. Anyway, in case you haven’t he’s worth about $3 billion. Billion with a “B,” babe. He’s generally considered to be an old-school original-gangsta Oil Man. During the 1980’s he tried to take over Gulf Oil, Unocal, and Phillips Petroleum.

Pickens is a loyal supoporter of George II (our president for a few more months) and since I am by nature a left wing pinko, Pickens would be an easy pick for villian. He had a lot to do with the Swift Boating of John Kerry which undoubtably cost Kerry votes and maybe the election.

So Pickens is a bad guy right? Except now the oil man’s oil man jumps up on the national stage and says, “Hey, we’re running out of oil. It’s time to go green.” He didn’t actually say this – I’m paraphrasing. The point is, Pickens is putting his money where his mouth is by announcing plans to build the largest wind farm in the world. The proposed site is the Texas panhandle and the numbers are staggering, 2700 wind turbines, 200,000 acres, $200 million worth of windmills.

In case you’re not hip to wind power, here’s how it works. There are certain places in the world where the wind blows often enough and strong enough that it makes sense to put up giant freeking windmills. The windmills are actually turbines that generate electricty by spining round and round. The electricity is then sent down the power lines to run your computer and everything else. No coal, no fossil fuels of any kind are burned. Sound like sceince fiction? The turbines are all over Europe and in certain areas of the US.

Not everybody likes the turbines. Some say they are a blight on the landscape. Some worry about birds flying into them. Pickens isn’t worried about any of that stuff – he just sees the dollar signs. He’s pitching ths idea to anybody who’ll listen as the “Pickens Plan” and a key part of it is to rely more on wind which will free up quantities of natural gas so it can be used in cars. This is the only part of his thinking that I’m not realy down with.

Internal combustion engines and diesels will run on natural gas without a lot of modification. And while natural gas burns cleaner than coal or petroleum there is still a finite amount of it on the planet. Just by sheer coincidence a Iot of natural gas burning technology is owned by a company that’s owned by T.Boone Pickens. Hew also heads up a hedge fund with interests in wind power and natural gas. See what’s going on?

I think the gasoline car is going to be replaced by the electric car starting in 2010 when we’re scheduled to see the first generation plug-in hybrids. For the country to take adavantage of more wind power T. Boone and his buddys need tax breaks and the right to run new transmission lines from the windmills to where the power is needed. Transimssion lines are one of the key bugaboos of the power industry. Nobody wants them in their back yard.

I’d like to think the T. Boone is doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do but he’s actually doing the right thing because that’s where the money is going. America will continue to move towards being green and energy independent as long as the dough keeps flowing that way. In the meantime I say: Go T. Boone! Build those windmills! But forget about this natural gas powered car stuff. Use the clean power genrated by the wind to charge up and run your electric car. Now we’re talking…

Scott Sowers

Wind Power:

Wind Turbine

Wind Turbine


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