Climate Change’s Unlikely Crusader

T. Boone Pickens

T. Boone Pickens - Oil Baron, Corporate Takeover Specialist, and... wind power advocate?

Oil Baron, Natural Gas Advocate and Corporate Raider T. Boone Pickens, is also the 117th richest person in America. His corporate acquisitions and takeovers have placed him into many industries, mostly relating to energy. A takeover of Gulf Oil, placed him on the cover of time magazine in March of 1985.

He was a huge financial supporter of President George W. Bush, as well as the Republican Party. He contributed to the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth, which ran an advertising campaign against Bush’s rival, John Kerry. He supported Rudy Giuliani’s presidential committee.

wind turbine pickens

Local farmer's would be paid to place turbines on their land

Then in 2008, a new side of T. Boone revealed itself. He announced that his company, Mesa Power had filed documents with the state of Texas announcing he would be adding 4 gigawatts of electricity to the state grid. He planned to buy 2,700 wind turbines placing them on up to 200,000 acres.

“We are now meeting with Panhandle landowners and negotiating wind lease and easement agreements,” said Pickens. “We are excited at how quickly the pieces are falling into place.”

T. Boone explained that the wind corridor that runs up through Texas and the U.S. should absolutely be utilize to provide a good chunk of the United States Power. The project would be the largest wind farm in the world.

He didn’t wait long to take action. In January of 2008 T. Boone estimated that the cost of the turbines would be in the $200-$300 million range. The first order of 6667 turbines was placed with General Electric in May of 2008. In July, the Texas Public Utilities Commission approved funding of $4.98 billion in electric transmission lines to connect the wind farms to the electric grid.

Then, with the credit crunch, the project began suffering setbacks.

“When we were looking at the project, we felt like we could do it with 30 percent equity and 70 percent debt,” The New York Times quoted Pickens saying on Wednesday. “The 70 percent debt is where we’re having a little slowdown.”

“To put it plainly, T. Boone is out to save America,” – Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club

T. Boone insists this is only a setback, the Texas grid lines need to be laid, but the state has committed to the project.

“When we were looking at the project, we felt like we could do it with 30 percent equity and 70 percent debt,” The New York Times quoted Pickens saying on Wednesday. “The 70 percent debt is where we’re having a little slowdown.”

The land the wind turbines will be located on also benefits local farmers. The farmers who own the land could makes $500 a month for each wind turbine on his property. T. Boone estimates the entire project could cost as much as 10 billion. To compare, costs of this year’s Gulf Oil spill areapproaching 22 billion (Source)

An unlikely partnership

An unlikely partnership?

T. Boone has since released his own energy plan, called Pickens Plan, which called for huge investments in Solar, Wind and Natural Gas. Then in May of 2010, T. Boone paired up with his previous rival, John Kerry. They worked together to incorporate many of the ideas of Picken’s Plan into Kerry’s climate legislation bill, which is expected to hit the floor this year.

T. Boone insists that if Kerry’s bill fails, the Picken’s Plan ideas will be moved into a different energy bill that can make through Congress. As it stands now, no republicans have stepped up to support the bill. Kerry hopes with T. Boone’s advocacy, it will gain some bi-partisan support.

“To put it plainly, T. Boone is out to save America,” said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, after meeting with Pickens in 2008.

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