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Pickens Plans On Wind Power

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the blowing-our-way-into-the-future dept.

Power 587

Hugh Pickens writes "T. Boone Pickens (no relation) has launched an energy plan and social-networking campaign that calls for replacing Middle Eastern oil with Midwestern wind. The 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 and provide an economic revival for rural America. Transmission lines would be built to transport the power where the demand is and natural gas, now used to fuel power plants, would instead be used as a transportation fuel, which burns cleaner than gasoline and is domestic. Pickens 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. 'We've got to get renewable into the mix. The problem for this country is that we're paying $700 billion — you heard that — $700 billion a year,' Pickens says. 'We can't afford that. In 10 years we'll be broke if we continue that.'"

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What about??? (4, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129581)

What about upright wind tunnels? They build a big structure a mile tall with plastic tarps 10ft above the surface for a few miles radius.

Air warms up under the tarp and goes up the tunnel. Estimates put power at around 500 MW. It was a project around Australia somewhere but it was cut to 1/2 mile for some reason (I dont know).

Re:What about??? (3, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129647)

That's really solar power, not wind. With wind power, the air is already moving before you heat it up.

Re:What about??? (4, Insightful)

maackey (1323081) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130199)

Where do you think wind comes from ... magic? No. The sun heats up the atmosphere which causes a temperature (and thus pressure) differentiation which balances itself out by mixing with the surrounding atmosphere, thus producing wind.

So by your definition, ALL wind power is really solar power, which makes your statement kind of contradictory. Not that it really matters, but since you were being a semantic pedantic, I might as well be too.

Re:What about??? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24129723)

you can get all of the hot air you'd ever need in washington DC

Re:What about??? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24129783)

What about upright wind tunnels? They build a big structure a mile tall with plastic tarps 10ft above the surface for a few miles radius.

Air warms up under the tarp and goes up the tunnel. Estimates put power at around 500 MW. It was a project around Australia somewhere but it was cut to 1/2 mile for some reason (I dont know).

There was talk about building one over the Senate but it's believed the upward rushing hot air would cause a massive drop in air pressure for the surrounding neighborhoods endangering public health. The current system of not requiring Senators to attend most sessions seems to be working.

Re:What about??? (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129951)

It's official, wind power is the new cold fusion.

Get off his nuts (4, Insightful)

hdon (1104251) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129611)

It could *EASILY* turn out that Pickens is just another participant in the public relations campaign that big oil is putting on to convince Americans that big oil isn't out to get them.

People are angry at the pump, and the more people who identify oil companies as enemies, the more people are exploring alternative fuels.

While his emphasis on America's trade deficit and, apparently, the economy seems to be a new tune for an oil man, he has plenty of others with whom to share the oil-going-green spotlight with.

Re:Get off his nuts (5, Insightful)

volcanopele (537152) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129657)

I don't think it is so much a plow to make oil look more "green," but for the oil companies to position themselves to be the ones who provide the alternative energy sources. If we switch to wind energy, they will run the turbines. If we switch to solar, they will run the solar panel farms. Why get rich off just one energy source, when you can monopolize others.

Re:Get off his nuts (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129705)

I don't think so,I just think he is going where the money is. Yes,he made his money in oil,but anyone with a brain can see that the oil money is headed out of the country like a black hole on our economy. Mr. Pickens knows that domestic production of energy will not only help out our economy,but put more cash in his pocket as well. This is the kind of capitalism we need to see more of. The man sees we have a problem and develops ways to help us out of that problem while increasing jobs domestically and making a nice profit for himself. I think it is a great idea. But as always this is my 02c,YMMV

Re:Get off his nuts (3, Insightful)

Yold (473518) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129767)

Nah.... Pickens is already set for life, I doubt he is looking to financially profit from this campaign. He is a respected philanthropist, but he is old, and I think he is just throwing his money around trying to secure his legacy, much like Rockafeller did at the end of his life, and like Gore did at the end of his political career.

We all know a silver-bullet is unlikely for the energy "crisis". It is a looming inevitability, but media scare-mongering has the average american thinking that something has to be done NOW (but how many are willing to trade those SUVs?). Changing the world takes time...

The best short-term solution is government regulation of automobiles, through taxation and incentives. Offer an incentive to drive ULEVs, put additional sales tax on anything that averages less than 22 mpg on the highway. Offering subsidized motorcycle/SmartCar parking in urban centers would be a wise incentive as well.

Re:Get off his nuts (5, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130163)

We all know a silver-bullet is unlikely for the energy "crisis"

Incorrect. A silver bullet is exactly what we need.

The problem at the moment (i.e. timescales of at least 10,000 years) is NOT a lack of energy sources. We've got the means to tap the water cycle, air currents, hot rocks, fissionable metals, trapped hydrocarbons, coal, extra-planetary radiation, ocean currents, angular momentum, and probably a dozen things I can't think of off the top of my head.

The problem is that nearly every time we try to exploit one of those resources, the project is stymied by bureaucratic regulators more concerned with placating NIMBYs and BANANAs than facilitating a responsible plan to supply our nation's ever-growing need for energy.

The silver bullet is not technological. It's political. We need only one thing: the will to start new energy projects. Nearly ANY new energy projects at the moment are an improvement.

Let me be the first to say, "Yes, I do want a Nuclear Power plant in my back yard. Or a wind farm. Or a solar farm. Or a deep hole. or a Dam. Or even a coal plant (I'm not real keen on the coal plant, for aesthetic reasons but if we must, we must). And turn those ugly condos that replaced the tank farm into a refinery."

Conservation is good too. It's just another angle, but it's not sufficient on it's own.

Re: motorcycle parking, you don't even need to subsidize it, just splitting some spaces to allow more motorcycle parking closer to places is probably enough. But ban "cruisers" from the spaces. No bike that weighs as much as, costs more than, and gets worse gas mileage than a jeep wrangler ought to be treated like a bike.

Tornadoes get a bad rap (0, Troll)

spineboy (22918) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129931)

Or maybe T. Boone Pickens is a big fan of tornadoes, and doesn't like all the bad press they get. Now with wind power being a good thing, people will look forward to a tornado, since it might really give the city a nice little boost of energy. This way Mr. Pickens gets to refurbish theimage of tornadoes, like how John Travolta became cool again after Pulp Fiction.

Re:Get off his nuts (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24129995)

Does this really matter? If the oil companies invest this much capital in the US and we are able to reduce the overall import of oil who really cares. Really the only people with enough money to do something like this are companies like that, which is a bit sad, but basically the money for ambitious projects that hold a lot of risk has dried up quite a bit. We really are broke as a nation at the moment.

Good to see (4, Informative)

Slimee (1246598) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129613)

Good to see someone up top speaking out for a change. I don't understand why more dont follow suit.... If you're a rich billionaire oil tycoon, you could invest in windpower and become a rich billionaire wind tycoon...There's no need to be so hell bent on oil

Re:Good to see (5, Insightful)

runningduck (810975) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129695)

The reason why the entrenched oil industry is uninterested in alternative energy is because with oil they control the supply chain. Many alternative forms of energy are difficult to control. Without this firm grip of control on the industry any investment will ultimately lead to a net loss for these powerful few and a chaotic reorganization for all others in the energy industry.

Re:Good to see (4, Insightful)

Yold (473518) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129789)

He is already a rich hedge-fund manager. He wants recognition for philanthropy, not money.

Um (-1, Troll)

thrashee (1066650) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129623)

Unfortunately, I do not believe in the slightest that wind energy is going to have a major effect on our dependency on oil. It sounds great for power plants and other things, but it's the automobile sector we really need to worry about.

Re:Um (5, Informative)

volcanopele (537152) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129675)

His point is to use wind to replace natural gas power plants, then use natural gas to fuel our vehicles.

Re:Um (2, Insightful)

scottrocket (1065416) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129763)

If these LNG cars also happen to be pluggable hybrids, then he makes money both ways: He sells you the electricity for the nightly plug in, & the LNG for those longer trips or convenience of not having to plug in at all. I suspect he is serious, if the article is correct, and Pickens is void of hyperbole:

"We're going to build a 4,000-megawatt farm in Pampa, and we've already bought the turbines for the first 1,000 megawatts".

Re:Um (3, Informative)

RealGene (1025017) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129713)

Fine, don't RTFA. And apparently, you didn't read the /. summary, either
The intention is to use wind power to free up supply of domestic natural gas for transport (that's automobiles).
22% of US electric demand is supplied by natural gas fired power plants.
[Gene]

Re:Um (0, Troll)

thrashee (1066650) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129741)

Yet another poster whose "claim" is to simply spout out RTFA.

Anyone have any idea of the feasibility of actually using natural gas to fuel transportation? Yes? No? I'm willing to bet that in the long run, it's simply not as efficient. Electric cars are great, but they haven't made a major dent in the industry, now have they?

Re:Um (-1, Offtopic)

thrashee (1066650) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129867)

Ok, seriously...if you're going to moderate posts, READ THE CONTEXT. I'm tired of being labeled a troll because I make a legitimate reply to an article, some clown comes along with a pithy "RTFA" reply, and when I respond, I get nabbed for it. Moderators, do your job.

Re:Um (2, Interesting)

VoyagerRadio (669156) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129909)

Yeah, I'm with you on this. The moderation here seems broken, seriously flawed.

Re:Um (-1, Offtopic)

VoyagerRadio (669156) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130093)

Someone marked this as "Troll"? Okay, who has it out for me and how do I report this?

Re:Um (-1, Offtopic)

thrashee (1066650) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130231)

Write Slashdot, apparently. I did so, and mysteriously my karma went from bad to neutral. Kudos for them for looking into it.

Sorry you got trolled for agreeing with me.

Re:Um (4, Informative)

RealGene (1025017) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130027)

You really have a severe case of ADD, if you can't get past my first line.
It takes 5.6 pounds of natural gas to provide the equivalent energy of 1 gallon of gasoline (GGE).
(1 gallon of gasoline weighs between 5 and 6 pounds, depending on temperature).
According to the Green Car Congress [greencarcongress.com] , a gasoline Honda Civic SE consumes 6.9 liters of gasoline for every 100 kilometers driven (34 mpg); the CNG Civic GX requires 7.4 liters gasoline equivalent (31.7 mpg), making it 7% less efficient. The GX carries 8.0 GGE, for a range of about 200 miles.
In Massachusetts, CNG is selling for $2.96 GGE, vs. $4.09 for gasoline, making it 28% less expensive.
There are approximately 120,000 CNG vehicles on the road in the US. [Gene]

Natural gas for cars = bad idea (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24129771)

This blogger explains it pretty well:

Memo to T. Boone Pickens: Your energy plan is half-brilliant, half-dumb [climateprogress.org]

Seriously, though, it's great that gazillionaire TBP is talking up peak oil and joining the wind power bandwagon (see "Wind Power â" A core climate solution" [climateprogress.org] ). And it's great he plans to spend tens of millions of dollars pushing this idea and delivering the mesage that $15 billion dollars for the wind production tax credit is peanuts compared to the $700 billion this country is going to spend on foreign oil this year.

But if you want to displace oil, the obvious thing to do is use of the wind power to charge plug-in hybrids (see "Plug-in hybrids and electric cars â" a core climate solution" [climateprogress.org] ), multiple models of which will be introduced into the US car market in two years. Indeed, with electric utilities controlling the charging of the plug-ins, they can make optimum use of variable windpower, which is mostly available at night time. That would be win-win-win.

The Pickens Plan, however, is based on the utterly impractical idea that "Harnessing the power of wind to generate electricity will give us the flexibility to shift natural gas away from electricity generation and put it to use as a transportation fuel."

Uhh, never gonna happen, T. Boone. Never. The most obvious reason is the gross inefficiency of the entire plan.

Right now, "We currently use natural gas to produce 22% of our electricity." Most of that electricity comes from gas burned in combined cycle gas turbines at an overall efficiency of up to 60%. Why in the world would the federal government â" or anyone else â" spend billions and billion of dollars on natural gas fueling stations and natural gas vehicles in order to burn the gas with an efficiency of 15% to 20%? Natural gas is simply too useful and expensive to squander in such a fashion.

And then thereâ(TM)s global warming.

It now seems clear this country will have a major effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and a price for carbon dioxide within a few years. That means all federal and private sector energy-related investments will increasingly be driven by the need to achieve reductions in carbon dioxide emissions at the lowest price.

Running cars on natural gas does NOT significantly reduce GHG emissions (esp. if there is even the tiniest leak in the whole gas delivery process). Running a car on electricity from the U.S. electric grid does reduce GHG emissions. And running a car on electricity from combined cycle gas turbines would have a far lower GHG emissions than running the car directly on natural gas â" internal combustion engines are simply too damn inefficient.

Re:Um (-1, Offtopic)

thrashee (1066650) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129903)

Would someone explain to me how this post is worthy of "troll" status?

I saw that commercial too (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129629)

In 10 years we'll be broke if we continue that.

      There are some that would argue that the US is already broke. The creditors just hadn't started calling yet. But they are now. Take a look at the S&P 500 over the past couple months, then zoom out and compare it to 2001. Yes, friend, right here is the abyss. Not later - right now. 1250 is where it stopped a few months ago. 1250ish is where we are now. After that it's 800 and we're back to the low point of the dot-com crash, and after that there's only the floor. It goes all the way down.

      No, America doesn't have 10 years. Oil is going to break America long before that. Europeans are paying $9 US or more per gallon of gas and although they don't like it, they manage. What happens to the US economy when gas doubles again? You're having trouble at $4/gallon.

Re:I saw that commercial too (5, Insightful)

doC15 '-_-' (1322849) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129731)

Remember that many Europeans also have access to free healthcare and higher education. They also have much better public transportation systems in Europe, so they are not as dependable on gas as Americans. Also, cars in Europe are much smaller and much more fuel efficient than cars driven in America. Therefore, Americans are absolutely in trouble as the the gas prices keep rising.

Re:I saw that commercial too (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129785)

Not only that, but America has been DESIGNED for the automobile. It's almost impossible to live in the US without a car - at least if you want any quality of life. The scale of the towns, the distances to supermarkets, restaurants, schools, workplaces boggle the mind. In Europe everything is fairly close unless you live way out in the country, public transport is, with few exceptions, excellent, etc. In the US you have to wait for buses that come every half hour instead of every 5 minutes, you have to walk 1km or so to the bus stop (unless you're lucky and live near a major route), and everything you need it at least 3 or 4 km away. It's amazing how you don't notice the distances in the US until you try to walk it.

Yes it makes for nice, clean, tidy towns, with beautiful roads, ample living space, etc. But take away the automobiles and people are screwed.

Re:I saw that commercial too (1)

introspekt.i (1233118) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129819)

OMG NOT $9/gallon!! If the gas prices double for the US, I don't think Europe will be sitting too pretty, either. Not like that will happen, anyway. Prices will recede before they get that high..market can't sustain the demand at such prices and you'll see oil taper off and level off somewhere in between...along with a stunted global economy..not just the United States. In the meantime, America and the rest of the world will come to terms with high prices and out of sheer media hysteria, it will come up with real solutions.

Abyss...lol. Ok.

Re:I saw that commercial too (2, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129921)

Prices will recede before they get that high..market can't sustain the demand at such prices and you'll see oil taper off and level off somewhere in between...

      I agree that increased price will, sooner or later, start to curb demand. However fuel is VERY inelastic. Yes people are starting to cut back on their "holiday driving". Yes eventually the Indian and Chinese consumer won't be able to afford to drive. However there is quite a large segment of fuel demand that is completely inelastic. The fuel needed to transport goods from A to B. The fuel needed to create electricity. The fuel needed to create fertilizers, plastics, etc. These are VERY VERY inelastic and the demand will only increase, until the last drop of fuel is gone. They are a function of population, not willful recreational activity that can be curbed.

      You see fuel prices leveling off. I agree. Where? $300 a barrel? $1500 a barrel? $60 a barrel? Whoever gets this right can become rich. Personally I think we have a long way to go yet. And economies that aren't based entirely on borrowing, credit and BS are going to fare much better than those that are. The US consumer has borrowed far too much, for too long. Soon we go back to only the rich being able to drive, and the poor being poor, and the middle class won't exist anymore. You see it otherwise, fair enough. Watch the stock market over the next few months.

Re:I saw that commercial too (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129937)

It goes all the way down...

to the last turtle?

Re:I saw that commercial too (4, Insightful)

rcw-home (122017) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129977)

Take a look at the S&P 500 over the past couple months, then zoom out and compare it to 2001. Yes, friend, right here is the abyss. Not later - right now. 1250 is where it stopped a few months ago. 1250ish is where we are now. After that it's 800 and we're back to the low point of the dot-com crash, and after that there's only the floor. It goes all the way down.

Stocks are cyclical [yahoo.com] .

1974 brought the S&P down to 1962 values - off 25% in less than a year too - and it was back up 25% in 18 months.

The fun part is that at any point in time, no one really knows where the top and bottom of the market will actually be. Sure, you can cry wolf, and once in a while you might actually be right, but to come out ahead in such a situation you not only need to know that it's inevitable but know when. For example, many saw the dot-com bubble popping years before it did - but those who sold right then missed out on a lot of market gain.

I think it's far more likely that our inability /unwillingness to pay off our national debt will cause further devaluation of the dollar (or increased inflation, however you want to look at it) over a long period of time - decades perhaps. I don't think anyone will call it hyperinflation, but it will be a period of relative economic stagnation. This devaluation will discourage foreign investors from using dollars or buying US bonds, which will eventually forcefully curb federal spending.

It won't be a good time to sock away dollars under the bed, but it will be a good time to have a fixed-rate mortgage.

Re:I saw that commercial too (1)

Yold (473518) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130195)

Even the Oracle [wikipedia.org] himself said you can't expect a 10% return on the S&P anymore... No one knows "at any point in time", but last summer, I'd say it was in oil futures. Ahhh... I remember wonderfully when I first heard "sub-prime lending", my fund plummeted, and I decided to bail and get a motorcycle. If only I had about a billion in investment capital instead of a couple thousand, then I'm sure my finance minions would have diversified me into some futures, and with even my grandma saying last winter "Gas prices are going to hit $4 a gallon this summer", I'd start pumping in even more money.

What people don't really want to hear right now, is that the gas prices aren't really due to a REAL shortage. Speculation and inflation are the real reason.

 

Re:I saw that commercial too (5, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130001)

There are some that would argue that the US is already broke. The creditors just hadn't started calling yet. But they are now.

As a percentage of GDP, the U.S. debt situation [nationmaster.com] is about the same as Germany, France, and Canada, and is considerably better than Japan and Italy's. It's a common misconception that the U.S. is badly in debt. For some reason people keep looking at the raw dollar values. In raw dollars, the U.S. has huge economic figures because its population is significantly larger than all the other G8 nations, and its per worker productivity is the highest in the world. Once you account for this (by dividing by GDP), its debt load is pretty much in the middle of the other G8 nations.

Take a look at the S&P 500 over the past couple months, then zoom out and compare it to 2001. Yes, friend, right here is the abyss. Not later - right now.

While you're doing that, you might want to look at the FTSE 100 (UK) [yahoo.com] , the DAX (Germany) [yahoo.com] , and the CAC 40 (France) [yahoo.com] . They all do pretty much the same thing as the S&P 500.

Re:I saw that commercial too (2, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130057)

Europeans are paying $9 US or more per gallon of gas and although they don't like it, they manage. What happens to the US economy when gas doubles again? You're having trouble at $4/gallon.

This is such a popular thing to throw around, especially when US gas prices rise, but it's a completely bogus argument.

The only reason Europeans pay $9 a gallon of gas because their government taxes it to that point [1]. In the UK, there is a road duty tax of almost GBP£ 2 on each US gallon. Additionally there is a VAT tax of about GBP£ 1.2 for each US gallon. That works out to be around a $6 USD tax on every gallon of gas sold in the UK. Percentage wise, this tax is greater than 100%.

$9 - $6 = around $3/gallon. Europeans pay so much because they allow their government to financially restrict fuel consumption. This might work in most Europe, but as others have pointed out, it's not feasible in significant parts of the US. If you're tired of paying this ridiculous tax, do something about it, or don't. In either case, stop playing the martyr; it's getting old.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_tax#United_Kingdom [wikipedia.org]

Re:I saw that commercial too (2, Insightful)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130075)

what happens when Oil hits $8 a gallon? Well judging from history: all emission restrictions that limit efficiency are scraped, all regulation on drilling is scraped, NIMBY protests on new refinery's are ignored, and at that price it becomes profitable to pump oil from nearly any hole and every available drop in the world will have a well. Probably leading to a massive glut in the market leading prices to drop(again) and once more the giant cars start rolling out. Of course it won't reach that price, not just because of the supply increasing reasons I mentioned, but the serious reduction in demand that would follow.

BTW I doubt America will "go broke" since there is so much fat out there, but they probably will have to tighten the purse strings for a few years.

buy the right securities (1)

jaypaulw (889877) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130079)

You know you can buy securities that will appreciate if the S&P 500 goes down. I'd love it if all the doomsayers would put their money where the mouths are.

Do you think that you know something the market doesn't? If the market should be priced lower based on all available information today (public and private-most likely) why isn't it?

Also, I think you'll find if you look at global market indices they've all been on the decline since last fall - it's a global economy you know.

Finally, what do you mean by "broke?" That the US isn't t going to be able to service its debt? Certainly we have more assets than debt, although much of them are illiquid. But I think you'll find that historically low tax rates can be raised if adjustments need made.

Finally if our central bank knows when it can't let a bank collapse (Bear Sterns,) then the rest of the world knows that it can't make a credit call on US debt without destroying their own capital markets.

JP

Do It. (4, Insightful)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129645)

It's really simple. Build windmill farms. Build solar collecting power plants. Build the variety of hydro electric generators.

Run everything from electricity including water heaters, building heaters, and cars.

Stop sending money to the other side of the world.

Re:Do It. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24129751)

Fuck T Boon Pickens and the corporatists that keep stealing our natural resources. If this is going to be done it should be done by the federal government through a "green corps" that puts out of work people back to work similar to the WPA and CCC during the depression. This is energy and it should not be a for profit industry. Once this infrastructure is built it will require maintenance but there is absolutely no reason that the Energy department cannot handle this. We should not be paying for profits to Pickens and his cronies on what is essentially free energy after the initial investment is made.

Re:Do It. (1)

BlendieOfIndie (1185569) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129971)

...it should be done by the federal government through a "green corps" that puts out of work people back to work...

1) I'm pretty sure Pickens isn't planning to install those windmills with his own two hands. He will HIRE someone to do it. It will take a full time crew to install and maintain a wind farm of this magnitude.

2) The government will not (or at least should not) magically pull $2 billion dollars out of thin air. It would probably take the bureaucrats months to allocate that funding. Pickens already put down the money.

Re:Do It. (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129933)

It's really simple. Build windmill farms. Build solar collecting power plants. Build the variety of hydro electric generators.

Run everything from electricity including water heaters, building heaters, and cars.

Stop sending money to the other side of the world.

And watch as countries who weren't foolish enough too dump oil because of Green scare tactics zip by us in their nice cars.

It's called a FREE market, as in people making their own damn choices. I'm all for internalizing the costs of externalities that have been PROVEN harmful, but pumping huge sums into government boondoggles because you don't like us shipping money to the other side of the world is insane.
How about we let everyday people decide if they want to pay more in gas, ride the bus, or just get a more efficient car. And how about we just let people get discouraged from using products that take a lot of fuel by their higher prices and substitute them with what ever they want. Of course all that would achieve is a more efficient version of modern society, not the global village the Greens hope to foist on everyone.

Re:Do It. (1)

timbudtwo (782174) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130125)

Its not simple. There is no infrastructure in the US to put this in on a large scale. There is already an infrastructure for oil. You cannot just "run cars on electricity" or run everything off electricity. Not everything can be just plugged in. Furthermore, there are no kits and conversions to do this that are widely available, or even cost effective. If you buy a hybrid car you don't even save money at this point.

Once we have the _ability_ to do so, we will. Right now, we have none. It doesn't matter if we should, its the fact we don't.

As well, we once we start distancing ourselves from the middle east and their oil, they wont be pleased. We do not have the coordination, drive, or will-power to start a massive reorganization of what the united states runs on.

Re:Do It. (3, Insightful)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130161)

As well, we once we start distancing ourselves from the middle east and their oil, they wont be pleased. We do not have the coordination, drive, or will-power to start a massive reorganization of what the united states runs on.

Apparently we run on doubt and a weak backbone.

Capitalisim at its best... (2, Funny)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129661)

Sure, Pickens he has some business interests in his wind power generation, but who cares. It is clean, renewable, and nearly always available. (And it produces *Zero* CO2)
Get some added transmission lines to the main grid from the 'wind corridor' and we up and running.
-Pickens is putting his money where his mouth is and at the same time helping America, that is a true Capitalist and a Patriot.

Re:Capitalisim at its best... (3, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129811)

> Pickens is putting his money where his mouth is and at the same time
> helping America, that is a true Capitalist and a Patriot.

Sounded like that when I first heard of this... but I actually dig a little before jumping into supporting something. Check his WSJ piece of July 8 and these two quotes from adjacent paragraphs no less:

Quote #1

"It will be accomplished solely through private investment with no new consumer or corporate taxes or government regulation."

Quote #2

"The future begins as soon as Congress and the president act. The government must mandate the formation of wind and solar transmission corridors, and renew the subsidies for economic and alternative energy development in areas where the wind and sun are abundant."

Eh? Sounds like another corporate welfare client trying to get his grubby hands into my pocket.

If wind were really economical he wouldn't need subsidies and wouldn't be waiting on Congress to quit masturbating and do something.

News flash: Democrats LOVE these high gas prices, sure they wish the extra money were flowing into the Treasury instead of OPEC but they still can't work up any real displeasure at something that pushes their agenda so well. So why are they going to act?

Screw the hippie crap with wind, solar, etc., we are outta time. Build nuke plants. Not in twenty years, not in ten. I want a plan to have enough nuke plants online inside of five years to make electricity cheap enough to change the economics in favor of plug in electrics. We have the tech to build a safe nuke plant now, waste disposal is still an issue but we have time to work on that problem if we can avoid western civilization collapsing. And eventually I'm sure we will perfect the greener alternative energy sources and not need so many nuke plants... or we get finally solve fusion and quit worrying about energy.

Re:Capitalisim at its best... (1)

mrbcs (737902) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129815)

Sure, Pickens he has some business interests in his wind power generation, but who cares. It is clean, renewable, and nearly always available. (And it produces *Zero* CO2)

I call Bull Shit. It may be "clean" when generating power, but how much gas is used to actually build, install and maintain these things? Indirectly they cause lots of co2 emissions and they aren't that great at generating power yet either. I'm surrounded by them and yet never see them running 24/7 though I have seen many windy days where NONE were funtioning. None out of hundreds.

Wind, solar and hydrogen are all pie in the sky pipe dreams, they may fill a niche and help out a bit, but they will never replace oil.

Planning. (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129945)

I'm sure he did no planning at all, just came up with this idea, and then started spending advertising money on T.V. for it.

Or maybe it will work.

Re:Capitalisim at its best... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24129877)

Sure, Pickens he has some business interests in his wind power generation, but who cares.

You say it like a business interest ought normally be interpreted a bad thing.

Re:Capitalisim at its best... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24129981)

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" - Samuel Johnson

Before the FUD hits the fan. (5, Informative)

copponex (13876) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129667)

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/12/doe_study_offpe.html [greencarcongress.com]

Someone, somewhere, will claim that this does not help solve the gasoline problem. Please read the above link, which states that current off-peak electricity could power nearly 200 million PHEVs, according to the DOE. Adding green energy sources will greatly reduce pollution in urban areas when combined with ultra low or zero emission transit.

We'd still have somewhat of an oil problem, but commuting can be covered by existing electric infrastructure.

Re:Before the FUD hits the fan. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24129781)

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/12/doe_study_offpe.html [greencarcongress.com]

Someone, somewhere, will claim that this does not help solve the gasoline problem. Please read the above link, which states that current off-peak electricity could power nearly 200 million PHEVs, according to the DOE. Adding green energy sources will greatly reduce pollution in urban areas when combined with ultra low or zero emission transit.

We'd still have somewhat of an oil problem, but commuting can be covered by existing electric infrastructure.

Here in Tacoma, WA our Transit System runs off natural gas and has run of it for quite a while.

20% wind is about right. (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129679)

20% wind is about right. More than that, and there are problems during periods of no wind. There's a study on wide area wind averaging (need source) which has a table of percent of installed wind capacity vs. percentage of time available. Even averaging over the entire midwestern US only gets something like 80-90% uptime.

Base load should be nuclear, since that's all fixed cost. Peak air conditioning load should be solar. In between, whatever works.

California needs a major effort to install enough solar panels to power the Southern California air conditioning load. The numbers actually work for this. The nice thing about solar is that you get the power during peak hours. You're guaranteed that bright sun and peak air conditioning load come at the same time. Wind is somewhat random on an hourly scale, and hydro is somewhat random on a seasonal scale.

Re:20% wind is about right. (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129775)

Base load should be nuclear, since that's all fixed cost. Peak air conditioning load should be solar. In between, whatever works.

Personally I'm biased in favour of whatever works instead of nuclear. Nuclear may work well for civilian purposes sometime but that will require real R&D and not just old 1960s Westinghouse gear with a slap of green paint to fool people into thinking that it's a product of the 21st century with living designers that know how it all works.

Re:20% wind is about right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24130089)

We need to slave problems with nuclear. Really solve them not put them away in a mountain for thousands of years. If we can guarantee the safety of reprocessing and disposing of waste in a extremely efficient manner, I think that nuclear would be the way to go for sure. But these things are never talked about, and there is definitely not enough money or thought going into developing these systems to start building more right now. We have leaking tanks of waste at almost all of our plants right now, and no plan to deal with the waste we currently produce. Until the waste problem is honestly talked about, nuclear is a really bad idea.

Re:20% wind is about right. (1)

seifried (12921) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129777)

Or simply increase the cost of energy so people stop wasting it on things like air conditioning (having experienced the bone chilling level most US offices and houses are cooled to it's no wonder to me that power usage is so high). Here's a hint: 72 all the time is simply ridiculous.

Re:20% wind is about right. (2, Insightful)

runningduck (810975) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129889)

The problem with raising the price is that the unit cost of energy remains the same no matter how it is used. Using price to control behavior hits some segments of society disproportionately hard without having much impact on overall usage. I think the few successful uses of price establish tiered pricing schedules where the unit price increases as consumption increases past the pricing bands. The problem with this model, however, is that as soon as you establish a tiered system individuals and organization with the most political power tend to negotiate the best pricing.

Re:20% wind is about right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24130043)

What?

I'm usually _way_ to hot and keep my house at around 60F year-round.

Re:20% wind is about right. (2, Interesting)

runningduck (810975) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129809)

I personally think the cheapest and most effective solution would be to install non-functioning solar panels on every residential roof. That's right, non-functioning solar panel. All you really need is an elevated metal panel to act as a raised radiant barrier. This would likely reduce the peak need by 30%. Under roof radiant barriers can reduce loads by up to 10%. Elevating such a barrier above the roof allows most of the passing heat to easily exhaust improving effectiveness a few times over. Think of is as having trees shade your entire house--very effective with less side effects.

Re:20% wind is about right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24130099)

Air conditioning isn't so important. We somehow managed to live for thousands of years without it. Rather than searching for more and more ways to continue our excessive consumption, perhaps we should cut back.

Broke in 10 years ? (3, Funny)

mcsporran (832624) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129687)

Mr Pickens, with a national debt of about 30K per head, an imploding housing market, a possible depression and soaring exchange rates to other currencies, weren't you like, broke, 5 years ago ?

Re:Broke in 10 years ? (1)

RanCossack (1138431) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129817)

Mr Pickens, with a national debt of about 30K per head, an imploding housing market, a possible depression and soaring exchange rates to other currencies, weren't you like, broke, 5 years ago ?

The more the exchange rate soars, the easier paying off the debt will be. That's the problem with floating currencies... and it's a bad idea to make hyperinflation so positive for the government.

But it's going to hurt when/if it hits, and not at all just the U.S. Fortunately, we actually could still recover. All it would take is a few decades of budget surplus, like we were running before we cut taxes and attacked Afganistan and Iraq. If we could just turn back the clock eight years and make the guy who won the popular vote president instead...

Pay-for-water? Well, we already do, but... (0, Flamebait)

VoyagerRadio (669156) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129689)

There was a cover story on this in Business Week a few weeks ago. Pickens is facing alot of resistance from folks over his intention to put a price on drinking water. Though we pay taxes to the government for our tap water, we haven't yet directly paid a private owner for water. Pickens wants to change that; he wants to make water profitable even where it's currently (just about) free.

Re:Pay-for-water? Well, we already do, but... (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129773)

It's never free. Getting clean water to the tap is paid for by somebody. Maybe the person who uses it doesn't pay full price for it, but someone, somewehere is paying for it.

What he wants to do is correlate use with payment. This provides a motive for conservation.

Re:Pay-for-water? Well, we already do, but... (1)

VoyagerRadio (669156) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129835)

Apparently you failed to read my entire comment: "Though we pay taxes to the government for our tap water, we haven't yet directly paid a private owner for water." Yes, we pay for water, but we don't yet pay private owners. We're not being price-gouged in the way we could if that was the case.

Re:Pay-for-water? Well, we already do, but... (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129993)

Funny, around here people get a water bill every 3 months based on usage and everyone has a water meter installed. Our water company is privately owned although state regulated by the Board of Public Utilities.

Re:Pay-for-water? Well, we already do, but... (1)

VoyagerRadio (669156) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130145)

I guess I misread the article, then. (No sarcasm there.) It's been a few weeks since I read it. Here's the portion, from the article, that I recall having led me to believe water was not privately owned: "The idea that water can be sold for private gain is still considered unconscionable by many," says James M. Olson, one of America's preeminent attorneys specializing in water- and land-use law. "But the scarcity of water and the extraordinary profits that can be made may overwhelm ordinary public sensibilities." (See http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_25/b4089040017753.htm [businessweek.com] for this quote in its full context.)

Re:Pay-for-water? Well, we already do, but... (1)

VoyagerRadio (669156) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129947)

How is this Flamebait?

Who owns the land? (1)

Strange Attractor (18957) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129707)

Much of the land in West Texas where the wind blows is owned by the Texas and Pacific Land Trust (TPL). How much of that does T. Boone Pickens own?

Water for sale? Just plain wrong (0, Troll)

VoyagerRadio (669156) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129721)

We already pay for tap water: through our taxes. Pickens wants to change that, however: he wants us to pay a private owner for water, even water that's disputably owned. It think it's a bad idea. Do we really want to see private ownership of water? Then corporate ownership? It's bad enough that most consumers are being fooled by Pepsi and Coca Cola Bottling for their unregulated water products (which aren't any better than tap water, and are possibly worse); water should be free, everywhere, and perhaps the *only* resource government *must* provide.

Re:Water for sale? Just plain wrong (1)

VoyagerRadio (669156) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129791)

Sorry for essentially posting this twice (though both posts were somewhat different). I would like to add that Pickens' plans to capitalize on wind power are the result of his failure (thus far) to capitalize on his water plan. It's about the land he owns in Texas, and has owned for some time: he's so desperate to make more money off of it that he's willing to try just about anything. First, he tried (and is still trying) to make money from the water that he's claiming to be his own (even though it's arguably not, especially considering the fact that he'd like to suck it out of the ground at a rate that will not be replaceable). Now, he's trying to make money by placing the windmills. This isn't some altruistic move; I'm not saying it's ill-intenioned, either. Yet it's clear he wants to make alot more money (or a bigger name) before he passes on.

Alternative Energy... hmm... (4, Informative)

Evets (629327) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129727)

Generating electricity isn't that difficult. Generating enough electricity to keep an average american home electric-bill free is. I started looking into solar and found it was too expensive for too little of a return. Maybe a few years down the road it will be better.

I'm sure a lot of people have done the same, and I'm sure a lot of people have also taken the next step as well and started looking into less expensive ways to generate energy. It seems odd, but very little attention has been paid to the home-electricity arena and there are huge opportunities for engineers and innovators. Building a radial flux generator is well within the capabilities of most do-it-your-selfers for less then a few hundred dollars and the only problem is how to turn it.

Should it really have taken until 2007 before flutter belts came along? Is it really that hard to engineer a device that would take advantage of rooftop wind energy? I bet some products hit the market soon and some DIY projects start showing up online as well.

But wind energy isn't the only thing out there. PV isn't the only way to extract energy from the sun. Gravity can be harnessed pretty easily. And there are plenty of other sources as well.

If there's one good thing to come out of the gas price situation we are dealing with, it's that a lot of smart people will be looking at energy generation all over again.

DIY project (2, Interesting)

FriedmannSolution5 (950021) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130017)

http://www.solarnetwork.net/ [solarnetwork.net] in the "keep what you generate, share what you save model"

Not trustworthy (1)

RockMFR (1022315) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129757)

This guy was one of the major contributors to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth propaganda campaign in 2004. I don't trust this guy one bit.

Besides that, there's something just not right about a billionaire oilman who comes up with an energy plan and first presents it on television commercials - this is not the proper channel for discussing energy policy.

Re:Not trustworthy (3, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129847)

this is not the proper channel for discussing energy policy.

      He's got you talking about it, hasn't he? How hard will it be to push congress critters for the appropriate political backing when he's already convinced half the country that he's the man to follow?

      Oh he might be wrong, and he might be full of crap, but he's playing politics. And in energy, you NEED politics. Otherwise your multi billion dollar wind farm gets killed by someone who is concerned about all the sparrows getting caught up in the turbine blades... poor little birdies...

Re:Not trustworthy (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129855)

You don't even need to resort to ad hominems. Why would we want to substitute natural gas for gasoline? I don't know if anyone has checked, but natural gas ain't exactly cheap either.

Adding in the increased demand due to its use as an automobile fuel, I'm willing to be it'd be more expensive than gasoline. Not to mention that we're running out of natural gas, too.

Renewables along with heavy investment in mass transit is the only long term solution, save the fusion generator that's always a decade away.

Re:Not trustworthy (1)

introspekt.i (1233118) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129905)

Fusion power will be here at 2050...that's what happens in Sim City 2000, at least.

Re:Not trustworthy (1)

RealGene (1025017) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130121)

Adding in the increased demand due to its use as an automobile fuel, I'm willing to be it'd be more expensive than gasoline. Not to mention that we're running out of natural gas, too.

You can make methane from pig shit, and there's certainly no shortage of that...
[Gene]

Re:Not trustworthy (1)

introspekt.i (1233118) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129883)

this is not the proper channel for discussing energy policy.

The floor of the house and senate has been a much more effective locale for energy policy discussions. If he drums up support in the private sector through a well-placed PR campaign and builds up the funds to plunk down a ton of wind farms to power stuff, what's the big deal? Is he acting in his own best interests? OF COURSE. So what? There's money to be made in energy, be it green or otherwise. Through this means he can build up a better rapport with the public and drum up support from possible financial backers. If it gets us wind turbines, what's so bad about it?

Re:Not trustworthy (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130201)

yeah, a Creepy corporate mogul talking about government regulating the economy to build a giant project who starts by beating the populist and patriotic drum on TV? Why does this scare me more then fill me with hope?

We Are Headed In the Right Direction (1)

doC15 '-_-' (1322849) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129801)

Finally, when we Americans have a gun held to our head and are in an energy crisis, we start doing something about it. The good news is that it's never too late to start doing something about it and I believe this country is finally headed in the right direction regarding the energy pandemic. It doesn't really matter what you think about Picken's. At least there are people coming out with solutions to the problem. A few years ago, there wasn't near the volume of discussion about energy and foreign oil dependance as there is today.

too little too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24129827)

great idea!

too bad it'll take 5-10 years to get to market, and in that time the US is gonna fall into an even deeper hole than it currently is now! it's a bandaid on a limb that was chopped off -- better than nothing, but FAR too little, too late.

it's a shame those oil CEOs (that make more money in a minute than I will in my entire life) can't be bothered to invest in rapid deployment of something like this, eh?

Its a bit bigger than a butterfly (1)

eggfoolr (999317) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129923)

Has anyone considered what the impact on the environment these wind farms have? Surely large scale wind farms will reduce the wind currents across the continents and cause a series of climate changes that no one expects?

Perhaps it will reduce heat transfer and cause a portion of the planet to fall into an ice age? Who knows?

Slim Pickens! (1)

introspekt.i (1233118) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129927)

That's what it is! I couldn't resist.

I call bull (1, Interesting)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129957)

"a one-third reduction, equal to $230 billion, in the U.S.' yearly payments to foreign countries."

Note that he says it reduces foreign spending, but not cost. Weird, it might go either way but he doesnt say ...

Everything I have read on wind power shows it to be incredibly infeasible. You'd have to cover the entire corridor with mills to be able to get the % he wants. He also listed biofuel as generator option which is frankly frightening. And he is underestimating greatly the effort to change to natural gas.
 
  Then he says all we need is proper leadership. HAH, if we had the perfect leader we could land a person on mars in 10years. But thats not happening. Hell if we had even semi-decent leadership, we could pass a law enforcing fuel efficiency and mpg for cars and usage would drop dramatically.

But maybe I just have it in for a guy that sounds like a hick while talking about science. And he has a name like T.Boone (reminds me of steak, country music stars, rappers and b/w westerns all at the same time). And was in SBVT a false smear campaign against kerry....

Re:I call bull (1)

uncamarty (245075) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130049)

Note that he says it reduces foreign spending, but not cost.

Cost is not the issue - its the cash going off-shore. Even if it costs double the amount to establish the infrastructure for wind power, the cash remains in the US's pockets - provided of course that some nut doesn't but the bits from off-shore.

Can't afford a bus ticket. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24129961)

I was under the impression that the US was already TRILLIONS of dollars in debt? What difference is $700 billion going to make really? The US is a lost cause, time to jump ship.

Two words... (0)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#24129969)

Migratory birds.

Blame The Environmentalist Fuckstains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24129985)

If it wasn't for their stupid asses we'd be tapped into ANWR and the Gulf and pumping millions of barrels a day and buying gas at less than two dollars a gallon. Fucking domestic terrorists.

Bush's Deficit (1)

Calindae (1256922) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130015)

Aren't we already "broke"?

extreme transmission losses (1)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130035)

Unless we're going to have superconducting transmission lines, proposals like this just don't make sense due to the transmission losses. Otherwise solar power in the desert would work too. Perhaps you could colocate things like aluminum plants, but otherwise, this is yet another "feel good" idea.

DOA (2, Interesting)

TopSpin (753) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130039)

Difficult to imagine how someone with this much wealth, presumably obtained via business acumen, could be this naive. The enviros will not simply stand by and permit private interests to carpet the front range with propellers. No way, no how.

They will claim bird extinction. The will claim the composites necessary to build the props are destroying the planet. They'll get a consensus of government funded scientists to assert that large wind farms cause devastating Atmospheric Thermal Depletion [nih.gov] *. They'll discover whatever "endangered" prairie critters they have too to prevent anything on this scale.

Forget it.

*should copyright that

Re:DOA (0, Flamebait)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130247)

> The enviros will not simply stand by and permit private
> interests to carpet the front range with propellers.

Yup, to the greens there is only one solution, eliminate industrial civilization, especially the American Way of Life. New energy sources, regardless how 'green' only alow evil Americans to continue to flaunt their high standard of living.

There are ALREADY greens opposing windmills. They oppose hydro. They even find objections to geothermal and solar. All of that stuff is great when it is greens doing impractical but feel good pilot projects to show how superior THEY are... more often than not spending the hard earned tax money of the 'lessor folk' they so despise. But as soon as an alternative energy source gets close to actual unsubsidized viability they objections start.

Don't believe me? Go back and observe how every fscking one of the enviros were gushing about biofuels only a few years ago. Anyone who wasn't in favor of pissing away money on pilot plants and forcing mandates, etc just had to be in league with the oil companies. Production finally gets ramped up to non-trivial levels and now it's horrible. Duh, why da ya think those of us with a brain thought it was a dumb idea to turn our food into fuel? On to switchgrass... until it starts actually producing fuel.

We're already broke. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130065)

I'm a little surprised that Pickens didn't mention that the USA has been inflating and spending like crazy for decades. We're not going to go broke in a decade, we're already seeing the dollar crash.

-jcr

Incomplete plan (2, Insightful)

Politicus (704035) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130205)

These schemes always go something like, "Renewable, blah blah blah, then a miracle occurs and everyone lives happily ever after." Let's all sing the monorail song now.

Natural gas is already a dead end. There's a reason why licenses for liquid natural gas ports have exploded and that is because domestic natural gas supplies are dwindling. Changing the transportation infrastructure to a fuel already in high demand at power plants is dumber than dumb.

Wind is awesome. It's cheap. It's safe and there's plenty of it. With DC transmission lines, you can even alleviate the peak demand to peak supply gap. The main problem is that the energy density isn't there. You have to put up a lot of capital up front to get the capacity you need. Wind doesn't need subsidies but until fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies dry up, there isn't enough market incentive to get it going on a scale that's more than a science project.

Hydro has already been overbuilt. There's no more energy to get out of that other than efficiency improvements at existing sites.

This leaves us with various solar technologies. The problem here is that there's a lot of manufacturing to be done before you start to see solar contribute significant energy to the grid. It's too late to make the transition painless. That should have gotten under way with Carter's energy plan. We would already be the beneficiaries of a new energy infrastructure today, but Reagan had to go and rip out working solar panels powering the Whitehouse as a sign to the oil hooligans that the party's on. So no, the transition won't be painless. It won't even be bearable. It will hurt. My only hope is that the pain produces some real political change, hopefully within the framework of the constitution since I'd rather not see Americans shed blood however gratuitous the initial outbreak may be. That always turns ugly. From Tsar to General Secretary or King to Emperor, revolutions have little chance of settling on the median most people want.

A good start would be to actually uphold the existing constitution by impeaching the evil doers. At least then, you're guaranteed not to have to endure some asshole on a "bring em on" trip ever again.

I Smell A Turd Blossom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24130239)

As a Texan and solar/wind advocate (I get my electricity from West Texas wind and have a 3 KW solar array on the roof), I find Pickens' actions very ironic/egotistical. He is getting written up in Business Week and all over the web for his altruistic vision while also funding advertisements to show how the candidates should address alternative energy and a reduction on foreign oil dependence by switching to natural gas and wind. Clearly, these are self-serving ads from a man that only cares ultimately about the bottom-line.

What is lost is that this is the very same man who financed the Swift Boat ads that effectively killed Kerry's campaign. I am pretty sure Kerry would have gotten the US further down the road of renewable energy than Bush has. Was Pickens smart enough to realize that he needed more time to build his plan out and needed to kill off Kerry? Or was he just being a good oilman in supporting the Bush/Cheney campaign?

The real underlying reason for all this appears to be a smokescreen for his desire to open a water "pipeline" (which would just so happen to run right next to the wind energy transmission lines) from the Texas panhandle to DFW where he stands to make a significant amount of money from water arbitrage.

The United States does not need someone like Pickens to promote the wind energy market. There is more than adequate capital flowing into these projects already. But Pickens does need to find a way to build his water pipeline, and renewable energy is a very convenient way to do it.

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