Energy Business

T. Boone Pickens Shutters Wind Project (GE, CLNE)

This has already been delayed and rumored, but it appears that oil magnate T. Boone Pickens has given up on his northern Texas Pampa Wind Farm power project.  The economics do not work.  The deal had already been postponed as cheap natural gas makes the project inequitable and as credit conditions are still tight.  Some discussions over the holidays with traders in the energy patch had led us to believe this would be killed, despite some hope that it would still be viable.  The lack of energy transmission lines is a huge part of the issue in this equation, perhaps even more than just the cost of natural gas today.  This is a blow for General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) for its wind turbine business, as this project’s total value was supposed to be somewhere in the vicinity of $2 billion before terms were renegotiated.

There was a report yesterday in the Dallas Morning News that Pickens had cut his wind turbine order in half, and the follow-on reports confirm this.  The turbine order was cut in half to more than 300 turbines which will be used to power wind projects in Minnesota and in Canada.

Pickens is not ditching the “Pickens Plan.”  Yesterday came word of a larger ad campaign to address the cost of importing foreign oil.  More importantly, Pickens is is still pushing to use natural gas for trucking transportation, and this ties into his company Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (NASDAQ: CLNE) for a nationwide or route-wide series of stations that fill up trucks with compressed natural gas rather than gasoline or diesel.

It was not even two-years ago that the largest wind project by Megawatts was announced. It seems that even breaking wind projects is bigger in Texas.  Better luck next time.  This was the right idea.  It didn’t even seem like the wrong time.  Just the wrong relative price.

JON C. OGG

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