Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Answer is Still Blowing in the Wind

FINALLY, someone with money is making a bet on alternative power. And not these ridiculous, PR-bullshit bets like "hydrogen fuel cells." No, this is an actual bet. One intended to actually change things. And actually generate power. And not, actually, just keep the public distracted with dreams of the future while we continue to happily careen headlong into the days without oil. I never thought I'd be saying this about someone named T. Boone Pickens, but, brother, I love you.

Maverick oilman Pickens puts $2B bet on wind power
Thursday May 15, 10:09 am ET
By Adam Schreck, AP Business Writer
Maverick oilman T. Boone Pickens places $2 billion bet on wind power in massive Texas project

NEW YORK (AP) -- Maverick oilman T. Boone Pickens has placed a $2 billion bet on wind power in just the first of a four-phase project to build the world's largest wind farm in Texas.

Pickens said the total cost of the deal will grow considerably after the initial investment in General Electric Co. turbine technology.

Pickens' Mesa Power said the Pampa Wind Project in the Texas Panhandle will eventually cover 400,000 acres and generate enough power for more than 1.3 million homes.

"We are making Pampa the wind capital of the world," Pickens said. "It's clear that landowners and local officials understand the economic benefits that this renewable energy can bring not only to landowners who are involved with the project, but also in revitalizing an area that has struggled in recent years."

Pickens, who was born in nearby Oklahoma and made the early part of his fortune hunting for oil and natural gas, said that developing alternative energy projects is critical for the nation's future.

"You find an oilfield, it peaks and starts declining, and you've got to find another one to replace it," Pickens said in a statement. "With wind, there's no decline curve."

Power from the project will begin coming on line in early 2011, he said.

GE is expected to deliver 667, 1.5-megawatt wind turbines in 2010 and 2011.

"As America's demand for energy escalates, it is clear that wind can and will play a bigger part in meeting that need," said Jeffrey R. Immelt, GE Chairman and CEO. "We're excited to partner with an energy visionary like T. Boone Pickens to bring our wind technology to the marketplace."

But the industry has relied on federal tax credits to survive, a point Pickens underscored Thursday.

"I believe that Congress will recognize that it is critical not only to this project, but to renewable energy in this country, that they enact a long-term extension of the Production Tax Credits," Pickens said.

Oil prices hit a trading record near $127 a barrel Tuesday.

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