Tuesday, July 8, 2008
T. Boone Pickens: A man with an energy plan
Oil mogul and corporate raider T. Boone Pickens launched an energy plan and social-networking campaign on Tuesday that calls for replacing Middle Eastern oil with Midwestern wind.
The so-called Pickens Plan would exploit the country's "wind corridor" from the Canadian border to West Texas to produce 20 percent of the country's electricity.
Transmission lines would be built to transport the power to places in the U.S. where the demand is. The natural gas, now used to fuel power plants, would instead be used as a transportation fuel, which burns cleaner than gasoline and is domestic.
He proposed that the private sector finance the investment, which would result in a one-third reduction, equal to $230 billion, in the U.S.' yearly payments to foreign countries.
Pickens has already invested heavily in wind, notably a planned 4,000-megawatt wind farm in his native Texas.
In his public statement, he said that any large-scale conversion off of oil would need a dramatic change in policy.
"I am calling on the next President and Congress to take immediate action in the first 100 days of the new Administration to do whatever is necessary to make this plan a reality. We are asking the American public to get behind this plan and to help us reduce our dangerous dependency on foreign oil. This has to be the number one priority in the country starting today and that's what this campaign is all about. I am also calling for a monthly report on the reduction in foreign oil imports and a monthly report on progress in the development of natural gas vehicles in this country.
In the video accompanying the PickensPlan.com Web site, Pickens said that getting 20 percent of the U.S.' electricity from wind and diverting natural gas to transportation could be done in 10 years "if there is the right leadership."
On the face of it, the Pickens Plan is not at all radical.
The U.S. Department of Energy earlier this year said that the U.S. could get 20 percent of its electricity from wind in roughly the same time period and has called for the creation of a transmission network to the coasts.
But the conversion of a famed and politically conservative oil prospector to a proponent of wind power will no doubt be eye-opening to people who still associate renewable energy with fringe environmentalists.
He's also adding some social-networking savvy. The Pickens Plan site has a way for groups and individuals to join the group or to carry the Pickens Plan badge on their site.