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Billonaire T. Boone Pickens is pulling out of the 4 GW Texas wind farm he planned to pour $10B USD into. A death-blow to the project happened when the deal to build high-power transmission lines fell through.  (Source: foxtwo)

T. Boone Pickens is instead returning his attention to natural gas, though remaining optimistic on wind power. He claims that natural gas is our nation's "only option".  (Source: Horn River News)
Billionaire says he will turn to natural gas instead

Oil baron T. Boone Pickens made headlines when he announced that he would be making a massive investment in wind power.  He had made plans for a 4 GW wind farm in Pampa, Texas a town along U.S. Highway 60 northeast of Amarillo.  The site was set to become the largest wind farm in the U.S.

However, a mere 667 turbines into the construction (likely about a sixth of the total planned turbines) Mr. Pickens is pulling out of the "green gold" project of which he has contributed $10B USD.  A deciding factor was the difficulties in securing heavy transmission lines need to link the generators to the nation's power grid.   Mr. Pickens tried to get financing for the lines, but the deal fell through.

Now he is pulling out of the project, mostly.  He states, "The capital markets have dealt us all a setback.  I am committed to 667 wind turbines and I am going to find projects for them.  I expect to continue development of the Pampa project, but not at the pace that I originally expected."

Mr. Pickens made a fortune off his venture oil and gas firm Mesa Petroleum that after initial success began gobbling up oil and natural gas companies in the 1980s.  Now it appears that Mr. Pickens is returning to his roots.  He comments that natural gas is "the only option at this point" and continues, "There's no other, there's nothing else to replace it. It's the one and only resource in America that today can replace foreign oil. It is a cleaner, abundant fuel."

Still he remains optimistic on wind power, stating, "We've got more wind than anybody else in the world, just like they have more oil.  I think that's the future of this country.  We'll get there."

President Obama's alternative energy efforts have pleased Mr. Pickens, as does a new bill which will offer tax credits for the production of alternative fuels vehicles, including cars that can run on natural gas.  In addition to introduce new tax credits the bill will require 50 percent of all new vehicles purchased or placed in service by the U.S. government by Dec. 31, 2014, to be capable of operating on compressed or liquefied natural gas.

Cheers Mr. Pickens, "We're going to now use natural gas in place of foreign oil."

Major wind and solar installations continue to gain traction in America, but the death of the Pickens project in Texas showcases the problems with America's power infrastructure.  America is suffering from a decrepit and poorly maintained power grid which not only lowers efficiencies (raising power costs) and contributes to brownouts, but also hinders alternative energy projects.  As America has expanded, the grid hasn't expanded quickly enough with it, as this project showcases.

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RE: This guy is a hack
By MPE on 7/9/2009 9:41:12 AM , Rating: -1
The "greenie" here is the one investing in it. He is putting his money where his mouth is.

Settle down. You sound more like a person with an axe to grind more than anything. Have you seen the cost and time required for a new oil refinery? It is not like opening a McDs either. Why do you think there is only 1 new refinery in the US in 30+ years. And it will cost $10B - maybe more.

This energy and environmental problem is not a simple as you make it sound.

RE: This guy is a hack
By teldar on 7/9/2009 10:34:19 AM , Rating: 5
You're a tool.
Look into how much of his own money he put up for this. Not a whole lot.
Like Fit said, most of this was paid for by our tax dollars.
WE paid for the wind farm he built and then he wanted US to pay for improvements in the grid so he could sell US the electricity that WE paid for in the first place.

He's real big on government incentives then making his customers pay him for what the government gave him. Nice, eh?

RE: This guy is a hack
By marvdmartian on 7/9/2009 10:37:20 AM , Rating: 2
And now you know how billionaires become billionaires!

RE: This guy is a hack
By teldar on 7/9/2009 10:38:56 AM , Rating: 2

RE: This guy is a hack
By therealnickdanger on 7/9/2009 10:51:04 AM , Rating: 3
Yup, Bill Gates totally took our tax dollars... wait...

RE: This guy is a hack
By MPE on 7/9/2009 1:45:12 PM , Rating: 3
No he dodge corporate tax.

RE: This guy is a hack
By TSS on 7/9/2009 9:11:44 PM , Rating: 2
"Smithers, why haven't I heard of this "The Leader"? He's as rich and wicked as I, but he seems to enjoy tax exempt status!"

"Actually, sir, with our creative book-keeping and corporate loopholes we only pay three dollars a year."

"You're right, we're getting screwed!"

RE: This guy is a hack
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2009 10:53:21 AM , Rating: 2
Except he didn't build the wind farm. He just bought the turbines. Which he now is looking to sell the majority of. Somehow I doubt we'll get the money back from the sale of the turbines. It's going into his pocket most likely.

RE: This guy is a hack
By MPE on 7/9/2009 1:52:21 PM , Rating: 2
$10 billion is not a lot. Yes you are right.

RE: This guy is a hack
By Fanon on 7/9/09, Rating: 0
RE: This guy is a hack
By jRaskell on 7/9/2009 12:40:47 PM , Rating: 2
Why do you think there is only 1 new refinery in the US in 30+ years. And it will cost $10B - maybe more.

I might ask why YOU think more refineries haven't been built in the last 30+ years. I can assure you, it has absolutely nothing to do with the cost of building one.

RE: This guy is a hack
By MPE on 7/9/2009 1:48:17 PM , Rating: 2
Return of Investement.
Building one is expensive, maintaining is expensive, cleaning it is expensive, upgrading is expensive and on top of that - they have no control over price of oil per barrel. They only refine it. This is why a lot of refineries in the US last year where operating in the red.

RE: This guy is a hack
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2009 2:11:03 PM , Rating: 2
You don't think an oil refinery makes money? They probably were in the red due to having to retool for all the ethanol they had to add + the bust of oil near the end of they year.

No refineries have been built because any time someone attempts to build one environmentalists make the costs skyrocket with lawsuits and requiring environmental impact studies.

Building one would be a whole lot cheaper if environmentalists weren't allowed to sue the builders on the behalf of the public. Look at the argument that went on in Montana I believe it was where they wanted to build one. The majority of the citizens of the area voted to allow it to be built but environmental groups kept bringing up lawsuits. I never did hear about what the outcome of it was but given that I never heard about it being built I'm going to assume it wasn't built.

RE: This guy is a hack
By erple2 on 7/9/2009 7:31:52 PM , Rating: 2
I think that the GP is right - the profit margins in operating a refinery in this country are stunningly small - it's far more cost effective to let some other country do the refining for you, then buy the resultant product. See for the approximate profit margins on refining oil. Sub-10% is pretty terrible (unless you're a government contractor, then it's actually pretty good).

Granted, one of the reasons why it's so expensive is that the regulations on maintenance and regular inspections are very costly. However, better to let other countries shoulder that burden, then buy the refined product for 10% of their profit margins (which, outside of very few other countries is still far cheaper than refining it in the US), and sell at a 20% profit margin, while still making healthy profits.

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