T Boone Pickens is old and tired. He made his billions of dollars in the oil business. He planned to build his legacy on alternative energy. Pickens has worked to build huge wind farms, using modern wind mills on the plains in north Texas. He needed government help to set up the facilities and move the power over the grid to where it would be needed the most.
Pickens’ visions may have worked when crude was above $100. It may have worked if the government was quick to upgrade the nation’s energy transportation infrastructure. Neither of those things is happening. At age 81, Pickens is throwing in the towel.
According to The New York Times, Pickens will build a few small wind facilities, but “He said that he was unsure whether he would ever revive the giant wind project in the Texas Panhandle that has been on the drawing board for years.”
Pickens real problem is that wind power is a bust. Solar power works locally. It can be installed at homes and in factories and the energy does not have to be transported any great distance. There is renewed interest in nuclear power. In France, more than 80% of electricity come from nuclear plants. The specter of Chernobyl has faded now that the Russian incident is nearly 25 years old and there have been no similar disasters anywhere else in the world.
Pickens is also up against improvements in existing sources of power. Coal can be made to burn cleaner. Diesels no longer belch the levels of toxins that they once did. Wind power is inherently expensive due to the capital costs of building the facilities and the added costs of moving the energy they create.
Pickens was the nation’s most passionate proponent of wind power. Now that he is walking off the stage, there is no one to pick up the baton, unless Al Gore has nothing better to do.
Douglas A. McIntyre