Pickens Plan for Huge Wind Farm Blows Away

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
T. Boone Pickens, the conservative Texas oilman who became the unlikely face of energy reform efforts during the 2008 presidential campaign, has announced that he will not move forward with plans to build the world's largest wind farm in his home state.

Pickens' company's spokesman cited "the collapse of the capital markets" and "the steep downturn of natural gas prices" as the reason for the decision, as the Washington Post reports. (Pickens also cited a lack of transmission lines.) The spokesman insisted that "Boone still remains committed and focused on developing wind energy in the United States."

Indeed, Pickens plans to instead build three or four smaller wind farms at a cost of $2 million, the New York Times notes. He told the Times that he could potentially decide to build the larger wind farm – "anything's possible," he said – but his decision is seen as evidence that the wind energy movement is faltering.

(See Katie Couric's interview below with energy investor T. Boone Pickens Jr. from July 2008 - in which he talks about his plan to decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil through the development of alternative energy sources.)




Reuters writes that the decision "shows how a brutal recession could change the way the United States invests in renewable energy." Large scale projects are now more likely to be abandoned in favor of "smaller projects that are closer to major population centers," according to the wire service.

A drop in oil prices and a decreased demand for energy also likely played into in Pickens' decision to abandon the wind farm, which was to have powered up to 1.3 million homes at a cost of $10 billion. In addition, as the Times notes, there has been no movement on two provisions in the Obama administration's stimulus package to aid renewable energy.

Pickens has been seeking to reduce oil imports by 30 percent in ten years by replacing oil with natural gas in cars and trucks; wind power, in turn, would replace natural gas as a source of electricity. Check out the "60 Minutes" profile of Pickens here.

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