T. Boone Pickens may stall wind farm plans
Billionaire oilman's plans to build the world's largest wind farm in Texas have hit a snag because debt capital has dried up, the investor says at conference.
Billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens, who launched a high-profile campaign to reduce oil imports to the U.S., is being forced to delay a huge planned wind-farm project, according to published reports.
Over the past two days, Boone spoke at events where he said that the wind project is having trouble getting financing because of the credit crunch.
He was also quoted saying that falling prices of natural gas, used in power plants, are making his wind project less economical.
Boone in July launched a public campaign, said to be funded with $57 million of Boone's money, to wean the U.S. off oil imports through a massive investment in wind energy and conversion to natural gas for vehicles.
Earlier this year, he also founded Mesa Power to oversee what would be the world's largest wind farm in Texas, able to make 4,000 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power 1.3 million homes.
Speaking at a Forbes Energy Conference on Wednesday, Boone said he has had to delay financing the project. But he characterized it as a temporary setback.
"When we were looking at the project, we felt like we could do it with 30 percent equity and 70 percent debt," The New York Times quoted Pickens saying on Wednesday. "The 70 percent debt is where we're having a little slowdown."
Mesa Power has already placed orders for the first phase of the Pampa Wind Project, 667 wind turbines from General Electric capable of generating 1,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 300,000 average U.S. households.
"The capital markets are problematic for everyone and...may lead us to scale back a bit," Jay Rosser, a spokesman for Mesa, told CNN in a statement. "But we are still going forward with our wind business."
The first phase of the project, projected to cost $2 billion, was supposed to come online in early 2011.