Is T. Boone Pickens Selling Off Some Wind Turbines?

Posted by starstuff on Tuesday October 28, 2008 8:28pm,UTC
"...There was certainly plenty of oblique confirmation that Pickens and his wind investors might want to bail: in the New York Times, in its story Alternative Energy Suddenly Faces Headwinds; and in the Wall Street Journal's blog, Environmental Capital: Green Meltdown: Credit Crunch Whacks Renewable Energy, Too. Even the American Wind Energy Association issued a bleak forecast.

"T. Boone is having his own problems, too, and perhaps he's suddenly in need of liquidity. His hedge fund BP Capital, which likes to park its money in crude oil, gas and tar sands plays, reported 2008 losses of $1 billion -- a quarter of it Pickens' own money, according to Forbes. In 2006 he was ranked the 101st richest man in America. He dropped to 131st in 2008 with a net worth of a bit over $3 billion. Who knows where he will be next year?

"Maybe investors in Mesa Power want out of the project? Pickens hasn't disclosed who they are or how much they've ponied up. He hasn't disclosed terms of the deal with GE for buying 667 turbines. What was the down payment? When are progress payments due? Maybe the notion of the project sinking $1.5 billion into its own transmission lines -- so it could actually sell the wind power -- all of sudden seemed foolhardy, too.

"So when T. Boone started talking as we ate dessert (fruit tart), what became crystal clear is that first and foremost he's an oil and gas man. In his trademark fashion, he wrote on a white board to reveal the hedge that gets his juices going: $7 worth of natural gas could provide the same energy for driving as $30 worth of gasoline from crude. Now there's a market opportunity even bigger than the state of Texas, and that's what T. Boone is after. He wants to put natural gas in every car in America. And of course, they'd have to get their gas from natural gas filling stations owned by the Clean Energy Fuels Corp. He owns 16.5 million shares of its stock that trades under the ticker CLNE.

"I can't recall that he said a single word about the biggest wind farm in the world that he is building.

"Plenty of blogger ink has been spilt explaining why the Pickens Plan is bogus, and especially why the wind part of his equation is a greenwash. Natural gas plants are fired up to meet peak demand and so it won't work to substitute wind for natural gas. When you really need to, you can't just flip a switch and say "let there be wind!" What's more, what are you going to do with the natural gas plants built over the last decade or two? Tell the owners to shut them down because the Pickens Plan is here? And most damning of all, do the math -- as Climate Progress did -- and it turns out that it would be far cheaper and more efficient to move the US auto fleet to plug-in hybrids than to natural gas by a 2:1 margin...." - more

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