Environment Forum

T. Boone Pickens: What, me worry?

Billionaire T. Boone Pickens is spending $2 billion on a bunch of windmills and so far has no way to get the electricity they will produce to market. Last December he said he was a touch anxious, but on Wednesday he didn’t seem worried at all.

Pickens is pretty sure President Barack Obama will get some new power lines built to those plains in the Texas panhandle, but if need be, the oil-man-turned-renewable-energy-advocate will take his toys elsewhere.

“I’m not going to end up with 687 turbines in my garage. They are going to be sticking up spinning someplace,” he said at a San Francisco stop on his latest tour to drum up support for his plan to use wind power and natural gas-fueled vehicles to wean the Unites States from imported oil.

Pickens expects the price of a barrel of oil to hit $75 by the end of the year as OPEC cuts production, and between that and the desire for energy independence he sees Obama finding a way to get transmission lines built from Texas to markets that need electricity – like California.

One person at the event asked him if he could end up being the “czar” of transmission, production, and more. “Yeah, I’d love it,” the old independent “wildcat” oilman said.

Gore vs. Pickens: who’s got the right plan?

gore.jpgWhen Al Gore challenged the U.S. to produce all of its electricity from renewable sources in 10 years, his aggressive plan to combat climate change was pitted against another recently-unveiled proposal, from Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

 Gore, a former Democratic vice president and Nobel Prize-winning crusader on climate change, announced his plan last week and has since promoted it on U.S. television. Expected to cost between $1.5 trillion and $3 trillion,  Gore advocates investment in wind, solar and geothermal energy, energy efficiency and a national power grid. He also wants to retain energy production from nuclear and hydroelectric power plants, and invest in technology to store and capture carbon dioxide from coal and gas.

Inevitably, though, Gore’s plan has been compared to the so-called “Pickens Plan,” which calls for a massive switch to natural gas as a transportation fuel and a dramatic increase in wind power (Pickens, a legendary oil man, is currently spending $10 billion to build the world’s biggest wind farm — a project he expects will be a big moneymaker). Pickens says his $300 billion plan will reduce the amount of imported oil by more than a third in the next decade.

Coal growth forecast to reign for decades

eia.jpgRenewable power sources like wind and solar are some of the fastest growing sectors in the energy business.

But this graph forecasts that coal, the dirtiest power source in terms of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, will still dominate global power generation growth for decades into the future.

The forecast, released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistics branch of the Department of Energy, shows that global power generated from coal will grow 115 percent to 15.36 trillion kilowatt hours from 2005 to 2030.  It assumes no changes in emissions laws or policy.