The mighty T. Boone Pickens has had to completely abandon his grandiose plan for a massive wind farm in Texas. This would have been the world’s largest wind farm and could have contributed much to the fight for energy independence and the fight against global warming. Sadly, it is not to be. What went wrong?
1. Transmission lines. No one wants them in their back yard, so few would give T. the rights to build them. Without the lines, the windmills would simply twist in the wind, generating power with no place to go.
2. Natural gas costs. The prices for this carbon-based fuel have fallen dramatically, making wind power far less attractive than it was a year or so ago. With prices less than half what they were last year, and the transmission pipes already in place, natural gas is the new wind.
3. Counting your chickens before they hatch. T. did a great job hyping his “plan” but spent much less time figuring out if it was feasible. The changing landscape of energy use has dealt him a hand he can not play.
4. Natural gas for cars and trucks. T. was hoping to put our electricity-generating natural gas in the pressure tanks of cars to reduce our use of imported oil. Then, the giant windmills could replace the electricity lost from the displaced natural gas. Sadly, you don’t see too many natural gas pumping stations on the American landscape. People often recall the Pinto and its exploding gas tank, too, whenever they are told that it is completely safe to have a highly pressurized tank full of natural gas just a couple feet away from them.
We all must salute T., though, because at least he tried. And that is far more than we can say for those of you still driving around in massive Escalades, Yukons, Tahoes, and Excursions.