Winds shifting for Pickens' wind farm plan

A lack of transmission lines means that a massive wind farm Pickens had hoped to build in Texas will need to find new locations.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
2 min read

T. Boone Pickens' massive wind farm, planned for Texas, is looking for a new home.

The energy tycoon and wind advocate told the Dallas Morning News that a project to install hundreds of wind turbines in the Texas panhandle will not work because of a lack of transmission lines. Instead, Pickens' wind company is looking for other locations in the Midwest and possibly Texas.

"I don't think the first place we build, though, is where we thought we would because we don't have the transmission," Pickens said in an interview done last week.

T. Boone Pickens speaks at the Clean-Tech Investor Summit in Palm Springs, California in January. Martin LaMonica/CNET

Pickens added that falling price of natural gas--now about $4 per million BTUs--is making it harder for his wind company, Mesa Power, to get the funds to build a wind farm. In 2008, Mesa Power announced it would purchase General Electric wind turbines capable of generating 1,000 megawatts worth of electricity.

"You had them standing in line to finance you when natural gas was $9 (per million BTUs)...Natural gas at $4 doesn't have many people trying to finance you," he told the Dallas newspaper (video). "I'm going to start receiving those turbines in the first quarter of '11 and I don't have that big of a garage to put them in there so I got to start getting ready to use them."

Pickens on Tuesday started a round of media interviews to commemorate the launch one year ago of the Pickens Plan, his proposal to invest massively in wind and natural gas vehicles to cut imports of oil. The campaign, financed by $58 million of Pickens' money, has attracted millions of followers, and Pickens himself has spoken to lawmakers about energy policy.

On CNBC's Squawk Box show Tuesday, he predicted that the price of oil will go from over $60 now to $75 by the end of the year.

He called natural gas a "bridge" to renewable energy and electric vehicles because it's available now and is 50 percent cleaner in terms of carbon emissions than gasoline and diesel.

"You can't move an 18-wheeler on a battery. It won't move. We have six and a half million trucks in America. I want to (convert) 100,000 a year on natural gas," he said. In addition to wind, Pickens has invested in natural gas vehicle companies.

He also said that a significant change in the last year is that U.S. politicians are now starting to take action on policies to reduce imports of oil.