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.