by Richard T. Stuebi
It’s been about a year since T. Boone Pickens announced that his investment firm BP Capital Management (note that BP stands for “Boone Pickens”, and thus the company bears no relation to the oil behemoth BP) planned to invest about $6 billion to install the world’s largest windfarm of nominally 4,000 megawatts in western Texas.
When a man like T. Boone Pickens — a billionaire, an oilman, an ardent capitalist — makes such a play, the corporate and finance worlds take notice: clearly, wind isn’t just for tree-huggers anymore.
Sure, Pickens is into wind so that he can make a lot of money, but now he’s taking even bigger stances. In early July, Pickens announced the so-called “Pickens Plan” — a massive lobbying campaign targeted towards DC with the key theme of reducing America’s dependence on oil. And, he wants YOU! to join his campaign.
Pickens — remember, he’s a self-described oilman — says that he thinks that oil production has peaked, and that “this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.” For Pickens, the answer is: renewable energy. “If we create a new renewable energy network, we can break our addiction to foreign oil.”
It must be pointed out that, at least until vehicles fundamentally fueled somehow by electricity are widely in use, adding more wind energy to the U.S. supply base is going to displace almost no oil consumption. That said, with a move towards plug-in cars (hybrids or pure electrics), or hydrogen-powered vehicles, electricity from wind and other renewables can (someday) achieve what Pickens dreams of.
In any event, it’s hard to fault anyone who wants to elevate the importance of the energy debate in national politics. If he wants to spend some of his money not on wind turbines but on other forms of hot air, more power to him.
Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc. (Note that Mr. Stuebi has no professional relationship whatsoever with BP — either the oil company or Mr. Pickens’ firm.)