Plan To Cancel Wind Farm No Big Surprise

T. Boone Pickens sees the light and has 687 wind turbines for sale

It sure didn't come as a surprise to me to hear that Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens has decided that maybe building the world's largest wind farm in the wilds of west Texas isn't such a great idea after all.

This week, the billionaire tycoon, who made front page headlines across the country and spent millions in TV air time to promote wind power as a alternative to imported oil, announced that he is backing out of the wind farm and has 687 giant wind turbines for sale.

It will be interesting to see what adding those turbines to the inventory does to construction start-up efforts in the Great Plains where Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson still thinks the brightest hope for jobs is putting people to work building turbines.

But it sure is no surprise that Pickens' idealistic plan fellĀ  apart when confronted with the reality of a lack of transmission capacity and electrical infrastructure in "wind country." Those of us who live in wind country have been saying that for several years now.

It apparently also hit Pickens that building that infrastructure isn't going to be cheap. The price tag on the proposed line from Spearville to Wichita, for example, is about $800 million. That's for 160 miles.

When you add that cost to the already steep cost of leasing land, building turbines, erecting towers, then building duplicate natural gas plants to run when the wind doesn't blow, blows too hard or changes direction too often, you begin to see what Pickens saw. Even an almost-bottomless pocket can't handle this pricetag.

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