The Pickens Plan: Oil Tycoon Turns Wind Booster

T. Boone Pickens, the “legendary Texas oilman, corporate raider, shareholder-rights crusader, philanthropist and deep-pocketed moneyman for conservative politicians and causes” is becoming wind power’s most prominent booster. Believing that “cheap and easy oil is gone,” he is “bankrolling what his aides say will be the biggest public policy ad campaign ever” to promote the Pickens Plan for “cutting the USA’s demand for foreign oil by more than a third in less than a decade.” Pickens, now constructing the largest wind farm in the world in the Texas panhandle, wants the United States “to produce enough wind power within 10 years to divert 20% of the natural gas now used to fuel power plants for use in cars and trucks.”

Watch Pickens describe his plan:

Pickens’ 4,000-megawatt wind farm, the equivalent of four coal-fired plants, will go online by 2011. His “out-of-the-box thinking” has garnered praise from Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope, who wrote in the Huffington Post, “To put it plainly, T. Boone Pickens is out to save America.” John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, writes:

The Pickens Plan calls on America to invest in a new clean energy infrastructure. It will cost $1 trillion dollars to build the turbines we need to provide 20 percent of our energy from wind, and another $200 billion for new electrical transmission. But at the price of less than two years of imported oil, that sounds like a bargain for a lifetime of carbon-free energy.

In contrast, an American Petroleum Institute spokesperson “hopes the plan pushes politicians to open more areas to oil and natural gas drilling.”

In testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last month, Pickens called on Congress to assist the rapid deployment of a national
network of high-voltage transmission lines
tied to wind and solar power. The nation’s electric grid, “the source of one-third of U.S. global warming emissions,” needs to be modernized for both the large-scale projects favored by Pickens as well as the “millions of distributed energy devices such as solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and smart appliances” that represent a clean
energy future

Read Podesta’s full statement on the Pickens Plan here.

UPDATE: At Climate Progress Joe Romm writes:

Half of it is great, the big push on wind power. Heck, even the Bush administration says wind power could be 20% of U.S. electricity. But the notion that we would use the wind power to free up natural gas in order to fuel a transition to natural gas vehicles makes no sense. Why would we go to the trouble of switching our vehicle fleet from running on one expensive fossil fuel to another expensive fossil fuel? Any freed up natural gas should be used to displace coal

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