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Pickens Calls Off Massive Wind Farm In Texas

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the i-told-you-those-wind-seeds-were-a-scam dept.

Power 414

schwit1 writes with this excerpt from an AP report: "Plans for the world's largest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle have been scrapped, energy baron T. Boone Pickens said Tuesday, and he's looking for a home for 687 giant wind turbines. Pickens has already ordered the turbines, which can stand 400 feet tall — taller than most 30-story buildings. 'When I start receiving those turbines, I've got to ... like I said, my garage won't hold them,' the legendary Texas oilman said. 'They've got to go someplace.' Pickens' company Mesa Power ordered the turbines from General Electric Co. — a $2 billion investment — a little more than a year ago. Pickens said he has leases on about 200,000 acres in Texas that were planned for the project, and he might place some of the turbines there, but he's also looking for smaller wind projects to participate in."

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A fool and his money are some party (3, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624089)

Wow. I've seen this same kind of mistake happen in the little companies I work for, spending money on stuff right before plans change. I've seen this kind of mistake but never personally witnessed one of them this big. Looks like I'm going to have to RTFA to see what changed the deal after all the checks were signed.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (5, Informative)

oddRaisin (139439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624129)

Yeah, I'm surprised the summary didn't include the reasons for the decision.

From the article:

In Texas, the problem lies in getting power from the proposed site in the Panhandle to a distribution system, Pickens said in an interview with The Associated Press in New York. He'd hoped to build his own transmission lines but he said there were technical problems.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (5, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624179)

In Texas, the problem lies in getting power from the proposed site in the Panhandle to a distribution system

Yeah, I can see how someone might forget about that little detail before ordering two billion dollars worth of equipment. Wow.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624401)

I'm sure he was banking on a bit of taxpayer funds and cutting deals with the electric company to get that done. My guess is they voted him down.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (3, Insightful)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624671)

I'm sure he was banking on a bit of taxpayer funds and cutting deals with the electric company to get that done. My guess is they voted him down.

That may well be right, but that doesn't mean that such was smart thinking on his part. I am one of the rare print subscribers to USA Today (yes there are still some of us left) and it seemed like almost every week there was some giant ad that his company paid for telling Americans to contact Congress and support his wind farm project to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. I think a rather significant portion of his plan was that some government entity, be it Texas or the USA, would get behind it and pony up the money necessary to get the power to a distribution system.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (4, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624313)

From the article:

In Texas, the problem lies in getting power from the proposed site in the Panhandle to a distribution system, Pickens said in an interview with The Associated Press in New York. He'd hoped to build his own transmission lines but he said there were technical problems.

There has to be something more to it than that. Maybe he thought he could get the state to pay for it or something the way sports team owners seem to expect the taxpayers should pay for their little athletic club. These public-private partnerships usually end up being a way to fuck the public out of tax dollars.

Electrical transmission technology is well-understood. There shouldn't be any technical surprises. The wind turbines are the new wrinkle but even they shouldn't be that big of a problem. It's not like he's trying to build a fusion reactor with technology that doesn't exist yet. There has to be a non-technical reason behind this.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28624515)

These public-private partnerships usually end up being a way to fuck the public out of tax dollars.

Since taxes are just a way to fuck the public out of earned dollars, does it really make a difference in the long run?

Re:A fool and his money are some party (2, Interesting)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624621)

Ostensibly taxes are supposed to go towards things that help everyone, not an individuals profit. Private sector business tends to take money for profit.

In this case, there's a bit of both. But in the end, if the private sector gets less money from the tax payers through the government, then the government (hopefully) will lower taxes since it's not allocating money for those projects. Well, ostensibly anyway, in this case, some government group or political action group would probably find some "beneficial use for everyone" expenditure.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (5, Informative)

bitty (91794) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624559)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickens_Plan#Pickens.27_motives [wikipedia.org]

I think the "technical problems" may be that he couldn't get the okay to build his pipeline along the same corridor. I never trusted his motives, and I remember reading a pretty detailed article on this shortly after he announced his grandiose plan.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28624619)

Re:A fool and his money are some party (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624653)

Electrical transmission technology is well-understood. There shouldn't be any technical surprises.

Seeing as it's Texas, somebody didn't make a large enough campaign contribution to the right people, next thing you know, right where the towers were supposed to be installed, it turns out to be the breeding ground for a rare species of mosquito, or perhaps prairie dog or armadillo.

There will be some more posturing on both sides, money will change hands, the show stopping problem will be papered over, it'll be all good.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (2, Interesting)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624697)

sports team owners seem to expect the taxpayers should pay for their little athletic club

The "little athletic clubs" who bring in buckets and buckets of tax money, tourism, and municipal revenue?

Those ones?

The *REAL* Reason is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28624609)

...the govt is now broke and he wouldn't getting enough subsidy money to make it profitable.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (2, Interesting)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624731)

That's a nice excuse that conveniently diregards the fact that natural gas prices have plumeted. Remember that while I don't think he is completely being dishonest with his push for wind power, the real money maker in this whole deal was his push towards more natural gas production. This is where he makes his money and was willing to pay out for wind if it increases his gas profits enoough. Of course this all really simply ties back to "It's the economy, stupid" as this was the driver behind prices flooring.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624149)

> In Texas, the problem lies in getting power from the proposed site in the Panhandle to a distribution system

It's a common problem. Windmills in your back yard with easy access to the power grid, or windmills in a remote location where access to the grid is problematic.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (4, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624163)

Here, I'll handle that for you.

In Texas, the problem lies in getting power from the proposed site in the Panhandle to a distribution system, Pickens said in an interview with The Associated Press in New York. He'd hoped to build his own transmission lines but he said there were technical problems.

Now, one would think a major issue like this would have been thought of beforehand (it was) and thoroughly scoped out BEFORE the investment (it wasn't).

Re:A fool and his money are some party (4, Insightful)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624199)

Taking a bet that fails isn't necessarily a mistake.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (2, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624411)

Taking a bet that fails isn't necessarily a mistake.

Yeah, but there's a good bet and there's a stupid bet. It's like building a golf course in the desert. Yes, it can be done, people do it. But the irrigation demands will be far higher than in sane places and even a child could tell you that you'd need to make sure you have access to water for it to even be feasible. No water, no golf course. This is just basic due diligence. It's like aluminum smelting plants, they use gigawatts of electricity to separate aluminum from the ore. Because of the ridiculous power demands, smelters need to be located near cheap power like hydro-electric. That's one of the primary driving factors for determining where the work is done. It's more efficient to ship the unprocessed ore to a distant smelter than to try and do it near the mine with expensive local electricity.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (5, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624481)

Classic example of that, the massive aluminum plants in Iceland -- an island nation with no sizable quantities of bauxite of its own to refine. It's cheaper and cleaner to ship freighters of bauxite to Iceland and ship the aluminum out to use its ample cheap, clean electricity than it is to just refine it where it's mined.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (4, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624397)

It sounds a lot like a gamble on his part in order to get the local utility to cough up part of the dough for transmission lines running to his proposed site. Saying there were "Technical Problems" is completely misleading since there is nothing particularly difficult about installing/operating an electrical grid, short of the significant upfront cost in materials, easements, and land purchases. Not to mention constant upkeep.

I suspect he approached the eminent utilities on this when the windmills were ordered, and got a soft "sure, if there's a windmill in Texas we will buy energy from it" sort of commitment that turned into a "You want us to spend how much capital? Just for the right to buy your energy?" now that the nation's financial situation is looking less optimistic.

Re:A fool and his money are some party (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28624721)

I suspect he approached the eminent utilities on this when the windmills were ordered, and got a soft "sure, if there's a windmill in Texas we will buy energy from it" sort of commitment that turned into a "You want us to spend how much capital? Just for the right to buy your energy?"

No it was more like: Whut? Windmills ya want us to buy electricity from windmills ya tree-huggin pot-smoking hippie? Are you a few plums short of a barrel? This is bedrock fossil-fuel country... Yeeeeehaaaaaa.... eat buck shot! Git'im boys lets tar'n feather this varmint!

Good. (3, Insightful)

dan_sdot (721837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624105)

These things are a great way to make a beautiful landscape hideous. And the amount of power generated considering the acreage needed is ridiculous.

Here's a crazy idea: how about nuclear power? Oh, that's right, the word "nuclear" is too super-scary for the science-based environmentalists. Never mind that they actually are better for the environment than anything else.

Re:Good. (4, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624151)

"Hideous"? Speak for your own narrow-minded aesthetics. Plenty people think they look beautiful, myself included.

Re:Good. (1)

trybywrench (584843) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624225)

"Plenty people think they look beautiful, myself included."

indeed. I live in Dallas and make the drive to Marfa ( far SW Texas) once every 6 moths or so to visit. One of my favorite parts of the drive is seeing the windmills as you get West of Abilene.

Re:Good. (2, Insightful)

Extremus (1043274) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624355)

Well, maybe they are "beautiful" because they are not so common.

Re:Good. (2, Insightful)

boris111 (837756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624461)

Exactly. I can think a house is beautiful if it's sitting on a large acreage farm by itself, but put the same house in a subdivision on .25 acre lot where every other house in the neighborhood looks the same... not as appealing.

Re:Good. (4, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624425)

I live in North Dakota, the generally really flat place that is boring as hell to drive through as there's no scenery. Trust me when I say that a wind farm really adds a lot to the landscape around here. That and at certain parts of the day they can look downright amazing. Here's an image [flickr.com] I found on Google image search to show you what I'm talking about. There are a few other really nice ones at well.

Re:Good. (-1, Redundant)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624429)

myself included as well (not redundant, this is called support)

Re:Good. (3, Informative)

j0se_p0inter0 (631566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624589)

They look beautiful to me as well, because to me they look like money! I'm in the wind power industry in Texas, but not with GE. And I don't think Pickens is alone with the site woes. It seems everyone is having trouble picking a site in TX at the moment.

Re:Good. (1)

quangdog (1002624) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624705)

I do as well. Just last week I was driving along I-84 between Portland and Boise, and they have a pretty amazing stretch of windmills along both sides of the highway for miles.

They were beautiful in a majestic way, and they helped me stay awake during the drive.

Re:Good. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28624209)

"Nucular". It's pronounced "nucular".

Re:Good. (3, Informative)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624213)

These things are a great way to make a beautiful landscape hideous.

As opposed to what, a coal plant?

Never mind that they actually are better for the environment than anything else.

Clean renewable energy is worse for the environment than radioactive waste? I understand that nuclear power is a viable alternative to coal and oil, and that it produces constant power and all that, but how is it better for the environment than wind?

Re:Good. (5, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624315)

If it's radioactive, you can get energy from it.

We just have these stupid laws because you COULD take that waste and turn it into a bomb. So rather than let someone potentially make a bomb, we decide to just take the highly radioactive stuff and bury it.

If the laws were changed to take all that 'waste', reprocess it and shove it through the whole process again, and repeat until it's dead we could probably end up with 'waste' with half life in the decades instead of centuries.

Re:Good. (5, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624529)

Parent is right. PBS has a decent [pbs.org] interview which talks about this in language most people should be able to understand. The person being interviewed was the head of a project called the Integral Fast Reactor which was a new approach to recycling the 'waste'. Apparently the project was extremely successful in just about all of its goals (one of which was a focus on creating a new generation of significantly safer nuclear reactors), then canceled at the 11th hour by the Clinton administration in order to win brownie points with anti-nuclear factions of the Democratic party.

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28624695)

If it's radioactive, you can get energy from it.

Not in any useful way. Trying to use decay heat to get energy has lots of practical problems (you can't turn it off for a start, and its output falls off over time). Very few radioactive isotopes are actually fissile, which is what you need.

Re:Good. (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624347)

I understand that nuclear power is a viable alternative to coal and oil, and that it produces constant power and all that, but how is it better for the environment than wind?

It doesn't kill birds. At least, not until the reactor blows up.....

Re:Good. (0, Troll)

m509272 (1286764) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624407)

"blows up" oh my, I hope you are a grammar school kid that just hasn't learned much yet

Re:Good. (1)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624389)

Becuase wind doesn't meet the needs of today's energy grid (baseline power needs, peak power needs). It takes alot to maintain such a distrubuted generation system, some people don't like the aesthetics, they grind up birds like no tomorrow. Sure they will be nice here and there but they don't have the potential to solve the problems we have now while nuclear does.

Enviromentalism needs to wake up and face the fact that the problem is now so bad that idealism must take a back seat to pragmatics.

Re:Good. (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624541)

I understand the deficiencies of wind. Nuclear may be better in several ways. But better for the environment? I'm still skeptical.

Enviromentalism needs to wake up and face the fact that the problem is now so bad that idealism must take a back seat to pragmatics.

How ironic. Environmentalists aren't the only ones infected with idealism. Nuclear is great in theory. But in reality, nuclear power plants take 20+ years to build, so they are hardly a realistic solution to today's power problems. They could re-use radioactive waste, but don't. Maybe the nuclear enthusiasts could be a little more pragmatic too.

Why bother -- won't change the (un)logic (4, Insightful)

stomv (80392) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624711)

Becuase[sic] wind doesn't meet the needs of today's energy grid (baseline power needs, peak power needs)

Nuclear doesn't meet peak power needs either. It turns out that multiple sources can be used together -- every wind turbine spinning replaces MWh generated by gas or coal. Build enough un/negatively correlated turbines and you can count a fraction of wind generation as base. The rest replaces gas turbine output. No engineer is claiming that wind can, by itself, replace all other power demands. It can certainly play a role replacing some fossil fuel power generation, and it's nuclear waste-free!

It takes alot[sic] to maintain such a distrubuted[sic] generation system

But not so much that we can't do it. It also takes a lot to underwrite the insurance for nuclear power. So much, in fact, that nuclear power companies don't pay for it -- the US gov't does. Somehow that tidbit, a tidbit that makes nuclear power one of the most expensive options around, is rarely mentioned around here.

some people don't like the aesthetics

Some people don't like the aesthetics of coal power plant smokestacks, giant fences around nuclear plants, or what's left of the mountain after the coal or nuclear fuel is mined. No energy solution is perfect.

they grind up birds like no tomorrow.

No, no they don't. The 1980s called, and they want their built with small fast moving blades, non-monopole design, and located in bird migration routes wind turbines back.

Sure they will be nice here and there but they don't have the potential to solve the problems we have now while nuclear does.

Nuclear has the potential to be part of the solution, but it too can't solve the problem whole-hog. Nuclear isn't financially efficient now, if you try to use it for anything more than base load your efficiency drops like a rock. Solar can be used to shave some peak (in much of the world peak demand is very positively correlated with hot sunny days), wind can be used to reduce the need for fossil-based intermediate demand when it's blowing, and biomass, natural gas, and water pumped uphill (battery) can be used to make up the difference.

Enviromentalism needs to wake up and face the fact that the problem is now so bad that idealism must take a back seat to pragmatics.

The pragmatic solution is not to pooh-pooh wind. The pragmatic solution is to use a mix of non-fossil fuel approaches to (1) meet our electricity desires, while (2) reducing the amount of carbon emissions we generate as much as we can. Wind can't do all of that to maximum effect. Neither can nuclear. Neither can solar. Neither can biomass. Nor hydro. Nor natural gas. Nor whatever comes next (tidal?). But, using all of them, whenever feasible, will maximize our reduction of carbon emissions in electricity generation.

Why not support both?

Re:Good. (1)

xenolion (1371363) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624445)

The amount of waste is a lot smaller than most would think. The plant where my dad works at has a 200 gallon pool where the waste is stored that what they have from 75 years of running the plant since you cant take that stuff off sight do to regulations its stored on site. So can someone point me to the place that makes thousands of gallons of waste a month like all of those "environmental videos" they make people watch in school?? Oh I also forgot to ask what about the amount of birds these get environmental wind farms kill? They are better bird killers than cats, I know this for a fact due to living close to a great wind farm.

Re:Good. (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624535)

Hmm, my city is having problems with pigeons shitting on our public buildings. How are windmills at killing pigeons? Can we install turbines on the roof our of public buildings to deal with the pigeon problem?

Re:Good. (1)

xenolion (1371363) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624673)

LOL, I never thought of that one since these are out of the city killing robins and such, You just gave me a new idea of helping cities out with this problem install some of these around a city area and on top of buildings to kill the pigeons then hire a clean up crew. The money saved from wind energy for the city will help pay the workers. hhmm now where can I find people that will be willing to pick up dead birds...damn no American will take that job looks like Mexico has that one nope still cant help out with this hard economy..

Re:Good. (2, Funny)

Kozz (7764) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624483)

Dude, I was driving an interstate through West Virginia a few days ago and saw a billboard that said, "Clean, carbon-neutral coal." So it must be true!

Re:Good. (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624563)

Clean renewable energy is worse for the environment than radioactive waste?

Typically. Yeah. Do the math. Hell - Pick something easy like manufacturing costs of solar cells or transmission/storage costs for wind.

Nuclear == Sensible green.

Re:Good. (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624685)

Someone else further down posted a study that wind is better for the environment than nuclear, so check that out. But yeah, so solar cells have to be manufactured, as do windmills. Are nuclear power plants then grown from seed?

Nuclear power plants take 20+ years to build due to all the safety regulations, permits, etc which is not likely to change. Wind and solar work now.

Nuclear == Pipe Dream

Re:Good. (1)

xenolion (1371363) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624845)

Um do you also know that the production of solar cells has more hazardous waste then nuclear waste.

Re:Good. (2, Funny)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624259)

You missed a key point. They were going to be installed in Texas, improving the landscape.

Re:Good. (1)

Gryle (933382) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624701)

Having lived in Texas my entire life, I concur. Texas is pretty much desert once you're west of Junction. Why not install some turbines? If nothing else, you'd give the terrain some identifying features.

Re:Good. (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624771)

You are modded funny, but I've driven that stretch of the panhandle many times and the power windmills are a real improvement from empty, mostly flat, arid scrub land with intermittent oil pumps and stock yards. It actually gives the landscape a serene, modern appearance.

Re:Good. (2, Informative)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624271)

Actually, wind is slightly better for the environment. ec.europa.eu/research/energy/pdf/externe_en.pdf [slashdot.org] no-download version [wordpress.com] But the point still stands, nuclear is as environmentally friendly as most conventional renewable energy and is the most economically practical of them all.

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28624285)

Yeah that's exactly why some people are against nuclear power, because the word "nuclear" is super-scary. Everyone's an idiot besides you, huh?

Re:Good. (2, Insightful)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624383)

Well, after about 2 or 3 hours driving in the desert (or the middle of nowhere), it sometimes occurs to you that somebody should do something with some of this land.. I've seen these windmills in many places in the western states (California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and more) and all these states have some nice vistas, and I never felt that wow those windmills sure ruin it.

Re:Good. (2)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624403)

You get a hell of a lot more energy (several factor levels more) out of a pound of Uranium that you can from a pound of Oil or Coal.

Why let those Uranium isotopes just sit in the soil and cause Radon Gas, put them atoms to some good use already dammit!

Re:Good. (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624593)

That's a great argument for using coal and oil too, you know. Why just let that energy supply sit in the ground unused? Drill, baby, drill!

Given the problems that strip mining produces, it may be better to just leave the ground intact and get our energy from someplace else.

Re:Good. (1)

quangdog (1002624) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624785)

Anyone know how much energy you can get out of a pound of wind?

Re:Good. (2, Informative)

orgelspieler (865795) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624405)

Have you seen the "landscape" of West Texas? I lived there for years, but I never heard it called beautiful. If anything, I'd say that these things are a great way to make a depressingly monotonous landscape just a little bit interesting. Before this, the nicest thing a rancher could hope to see on his land was a pumpjack. Personally, I find the larger turbines strikingly beautiful, and I hope to see them dotting landscapes across the US.

Re:Good. (1)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624417)

YES! Wind turbines are an optical abomination upon the landscape. Unlike, say, uranium mining.

(That being said, I am a supporter of both.)

Re:Good. (2, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624455)

They take space, but it does not leave the land unusable.

You can still farm around it and what not.

Re:Good. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624459)

With nuclear the problem isn't just the environment, it also requires a ton of people manning it. A wind farm can basically generate electricity with just a bit of maintenance. On the other hand, not only does someone have to run the nuclear power plant but you have to have guards, security, etc. With tons of initial funds. With wind energy, you only need to get some dirt cheap land, make a smaller investment and a handful of people could run a small to medium sized wind farm.

In other words, nuclear creates more jobs? (2, Insightful)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624837)

Wait a second. You're arguing that wind is better than nuclear because it requires fewer people to operate a wind farm? In case you haven't noticed, there's a recession on. Unemployment is a problem. If nuclear power plants require more people to run, wouldn't that be a good thing?

Re:Good. (1)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624691)

These things are a great way to make a beautiful landscape hideous.

So do highways and railways. And cities. Anyway, we are lucky that now we make decisions based on aestetics.

And the amount of power generated considering the acreage needed is ridiculous.

Indeed, 4.000 MW (more than pretty much any nuclear power station, there're power stations more powerful but they use multiple reactors) are ridiculous

beauty ? (1)

tizan (925212) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624755)

Oil, gas, coal makes beautiful landscape more beautiful ? Otherwise why most people have no issues binging on these and yet the mention of wind or solar they talk aesthetics and birds and bees.

Re:Good. (2)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624797)

I've seen thes things. They are in no way hideous. They are artificial, just like any other man made structure. More importantly, I love how people that don't own the property object to it being made hideous. Complaining about an innovation because you don't like the way it looks is the ULTIMATE in childish stupidity.

Re:Good. (2)

Mac_D83 (616934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624827)

And you find nuclear plants and uranium mines more beautiful? I enjoy the view from my desk where I can see the blades of about 16 windmills turn slowly.

Re:Good. (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624839)

Didn't a report just come out saying that there is enough wind power on Earth to meet 23 times the current global energy consumption?

Sounds like some people are afraid of losing their power. Pun intended.

Slim pickins... (4, Funny)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624125)

Yaaaahhoooooooooooooooo!!!

Blazing Saddles (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28624127)

Makes me think of the "Wind farm" scene in "Blazing Saddles", when Slim Pickens says "Boys, I think you'd had enough".

Re:Blazing Saddles (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28624181)

Nice try bluefoxlucid.

Buy a Prototype first. (2, Insightful)

happy_place (632005) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624211)

This is why we buy prototypes and work out the fascilities/infrastructure before we order hundreds of parts with no place too put them. Everyone always underestimates the need for a building for their new business plan...

Re:Buy a Prototype first. (3, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624269)

Interestingly, the article puts the blame on not being able to build the transmission lines he had planned (the article doesn't go into any detail as to why not). So, he *has* a place to put the turbines, technically, but doesn't want to put them there because he can't get transmission lines built.

Part of me wonders if this 'announcement' is just a tactic to put political pressure on other parties that T. Boone needs to get concessions from in order to site his transmission lines.

Are you fucking stupid? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28624659)

What the fuck does "buying prototypes" have to do with the article? Did you read the article? Did you read the summary?

Are you a mouth-breathing cretin?

High Voltage DC? (1)

seven of five (578993) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624239)

I'm shocked he didn't have this figured out before he plunked the $2B down for turbines.

Isn't high voltage DC the thing to do these days for sending power long distance? Is this a technical issue or a land rights issue? People not wanting HV pylons in their backyards.

Re:High Voltage DC? (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624453)

I would assume its a bureaucratic/political issue, or a powers-that-be issue.

Nothing stands in the way of progress more than big money.

Alternative Energy - Huge Setback (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28624289)

Call it what you want, but this is going to be a huge blow to alternative energy in this country. This was an all out high-profile project that just fell on it's face. Pundits will be using this to slap other alternative energy projects in the face for years to come. This is the kind of thing you could dream up very elaborate conspiracy theories about. Watch the oil prices skyrocket as a consequence.

And the steps... (5, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624301)

Step 1: Reduce Refining Capacity through by-outs
Step 2: Send out pundits to claim how high oil prices will go
Step 3: Get price of oil/gas high enough that alternate energy starts to become profitable
Step 4: Get people to invest lots of money on said technologies.
Step 5: ????
Step 6: Let the oil bubble burst and take the alternative energy markets with it.

I'm not sure where profit goes in there, but this also happened in the late 1970's through early 1980's. Right when other means of fuel production came online and people had invested a lot of money in the new technologies, the price of oil suddenly dropped causing the alternatives to quickly go broke and effectively stifle competition for the next couple decades.

Funny about that history not repeating itself, but sure does rhyme thing.

This was told to me by a retired GM executive and friend of the family back in 2006/2007 when the price of oil kept going up. He even gave a prediction of that the price of oil would fall around 2008/2009 and when it did, any interest in alternate fuels would go with it. Seems like he may have known something.

Re:And the steps... (1)

m509272 (1286764) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624451)

when the price of something can move up and down merely on the wind changing direction this makes total sense

simply saying you might cut production raises prices, weather might affect drilling or refining, price goes up, etc

Right.... This clearly passes occams razor (3, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624507)

Here's another suggestion.

High priced oil *triggers* recessions.

This would be far simpler and explain the oscilation in the price of oil after the demand destruction has fed through.

The solution (1, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624631)

Make people pay for the full environmental impact of oil, and the cost of their share of wars in the middle east. Solar looks great once the real costs of fossil fuels are not hidden in taxes and the benefits of running an empire.

I don't think there's a huge conspiracy, but oil producers manipulate prices on a regular basis - they even have an official racketeering ring called OPEC. It's unfortunate that American and British companies are in on the profits, though, because if they weren't, we would have probably abandoned oil as an energy source. Relying on a finite resource that is mostly on the other side of the planet for nearly everything we consider essential to modern life seems pretty short sighted.

Re:The solution (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624841)

This retired executive wasn't hinting at a conspiracy as much as, "This happened before until it reached XYZ tipping point and swung the other way." Now OPEC is a factor of that. They can only keep the price so high so long, but it is in their interest to take a short term hit, crash the market long enough to kill their competition and then go back to business as usual. Apparently that is what happened back in the 1980's and his prediction was it would happen again. He knew what was going on because he had been around long enough and saw it happen before. It wasn't the "Hey the CEO of Exxon and Price of Saudi told me...". It was just his personal experience.

I'll buy one! (2, Interesting)

orgelspieler (865795) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624309)

I've only got about 30 grand, though, so I hope he doesn't mind taking a 99% loss. On a more cynical note, I can't help but wonder if this was all some ploy to discredit renewable energy.

Re:I'll buy one! (1)

Logical Zebra (1423045) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624649)

...I can't help but wonder if this was all some ploy to discredit renewable energy.

That's a possibility, considering Pickens is defined as an "oil tycoon."

Not as bad as it sounds. (2, Informative)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624351)

The ones already ordered are still being built.
If gas prices go back up giving cost parity for wind, he plans to continue the plan.
As we modernize the infrastructure he plans to continue; just the current infrastructure can't handle the increased load, so it is a waist.
If it wasn't for the government created recession [house.gov] he would still be pressing forward.

Slim and T-Boone Pickens..... (2, Funny)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624361)

Dr. Strange Glove....
.
I have this mental image of T.Boone Pickens straddling one of the blades of a giant turbine as it goes round and round. He is strapped to it and screaming "Yee Haw" while waving around his Cowboy hat with one arm.
.
Then the Turbine blows up real good!
.
.

Here in Alberta Canada... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28624395)

It isn't the birds that are having problems with wind turbines, it's *Bats*
Apparently their lungs cannot handle the presure gradients around the vanes so their lungs have been exploding.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14593-wind-turbines-make-bat-lungs-explode.html?feedId=online-news_rss20 [newscientist.com]

Power grid is particularly problematic in Texas (2, Informative)

stox (131684) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624399)

Most of Texas has its own grid, and is not very well connected with the neighboring grids. The cost of enabling that grid to distribute power to the rest of the country was far more than TBone expected. There are plenty of other places that are closer to the grid to locate his turbines.

Re:Power grid is particularly problematic in Texas (1)

tetranz (446973) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624805)

Someone told me that there are three grids in the USA. East, West and Texas. Two grids can only be connected if there is a way to get the AC in both grids to be in phase before connecting them. Apparently there is no easy way of doing that short of shutting down all power stations in one grid first perhaps. That would mean putting Texas in the dark while they're connect to one of the other grids and then bringing the Texas stations slowly online again. It's an engineering and political nightmare and not worth the hassle. Of course the state of Texas is big enough that it probably doesn't need to be connected to the outside world. Being self contained might be useful one day if they decide to succeed from the nation. Despite that, I believe there are a few DC lines in and out of Texas.

Numbers? (3, Funny)

zamboni1138 (308944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624431)

So roughly $2.9M per turbine. Does that include shipping? Probably not. How long until I get a positive return on my investment? 10 years, 20? Come on man, I've got my bank on the other line.

A possible plan (2, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624457)

'They've got to go someplace.' Pickens' company Mesa Power ordered the turbines from General Electric Co.

1. Form new Mesa Power subsidiary called Black Mesa 2. Use extra wind generated power to open interdimensional gate 3. ??? 4. Half-Life!!!

Re:A possible plan (2, Funny)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624637)

Maybe you'll find someone else to help you.
Maybe Black Mesa ... THAT WAS A JOKE, HA HA, FAT CHANCE.

-- GLaDOS

Not all lost (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624477)

It's not like the $2B dollars is going to go to waste. There is high demand for wind turbines worldwide, now he's got a lock on a whole lot of them. It's difficult to know if he'll come out ahead or behind (are turbine prices on the open market higher or lower than what he paid? did he get a volume discount in his order? is demand high enough and supply scarce enough that he can charge a premium?), but it won't be a total loss.

Probably the worst thing, for him, is the opportunity cost of having so much capital tied up in this - it'll take him a long time to free it up by selling or leasing the turbines to other customers.

Re:Not all lost (1)

jagilbertvt (447707) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624629)

Besides, they'll write it all off as a loss and get a tax credit.

two billion dollars... (3, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624509)

Wind power costs about 0.055 cents/kWh. Coal has been slowly rising and is about 0.03 cents/kWh right now. Wind power would be competitive with oil and gas plants -- if it were 1998. Today, it beats both answers. Here's the problem -- nuclear and coal are the only economical alternatives for base load plants, which handle 35-40% of the total electrical power generation in this country. Of the remainder, load-following and peak plants, wind power might be useful.

The issue is, wind power is needs a lot of space to operate. And for aesthetic reasons, they need to be placed in fairly remote locations away from urban centers, which reduces efficiency. There are other geographical restrictions as well -- namely that the wind source must be fairly reliable. Electricity generated on an industrial scale can't be stored (for the most part). The grid must be designed to meet peak power requirements -- which means if you deploy wind power, you need a backup as well (such as gas turbine) -- wind power isn't a replacement in the majority of cases; It's a cost-reducing add-on.

A kWh of wind power is the cost of that infrastructure plus maintenance costs of the backup gas turbine infrastructure, when operating. The economic result here is that deploying wind power to provide a cheaper supplement to existing gas turbine and oil peak plants is viable in a few markets. But such deployment will happen slowly, over many years, as the cost of maintaining existing infrastructure exceeds the cost of building and operating new infrastructure.

this could only mean... (2, Interesting)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624561)

The collapse of the Cap & Trade scheme.

Woohoo!

This reminds me so much of Atlas Shrugged. (1, Informative)

random coward (527722) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624591)

This so reminds me of something Orrin Boyle would do in Atlas Shrugged. Spending all that money because it was the socially right thing to do, but with no real plan to make it productive; because he has never cared about profit.

Re:This reminds me so much of Atlas Shrugged. (1)

hwyhobo (1420503) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624775)

with no real plan to make it productive

Taxpayer "investments" do not require such considerations. It's just that this time his scam failed and no one was taken in.

You can read about some of Mr. Picken's other scams on the net. Try searching on "eminent domain" and his name.

Turbines en route (4, Interesting)

Ponga (934481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624707)

I live is Southern AZ where Interstate 10 runs and a road which I am driving on often. Over the last few months I've noticed a steady flow of "oversize load"s on the freeway that contain rather large wind turbine components heading eastbound, presumably heading to TX from somewhere in CA. Perhaps these are Mr. Pickens, but who knows. Bottom line is there sure have been a lot of these steadily flowing through AZ...

Just west of Austin -- you'd make billions. (1)

OpenGLFan (56206) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624727)

I cycle out that way, and I've never had a ride where I didn't have to fight the worst winds I've ever seen. There aren't any trees, Austin could definitely use the power, and there's not much development out that way. You'd be amazed how the wind just sweeps across a flat area where there isn't really enough water for good trees. It's nightmarish.

Pickens may be losing it. (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#28624779)

I went to a talk by Pickens, and I think he's losing it. He didn't mention wind at all. He was talking about how natural gas is going to solve all our energy problems, and how we just have to convert heavy trucks to run on natural gas. He's far more optimistic about natural gas supplies than most people in the industry.

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