BOONE PICKENS’ BIG WIND
If anybody understands energy, it’s T. Boone Pickens. An oilman since the 1950s, he played at every level of the oil game from land leasing and drill bit spudding to offshore exploration in the rugged North Sea and the even more brutal corporate boardroom. Here’s what Pickens likes about wind: "You find an oilfield, it peaks and starts declining, and you've got to find another one to replace it…It can drive you crazy. With wind, there's no decline curve."
The breathtaking ambition of legendary energy entrepreneur Pickens’ 4000-megawatt Pampa Wind Project is directly attributable to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s strong support of wind and the get-it-done atmosphere created by the Texas Public Utility Commission (TPUC) and the Texas grid-operators, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP). Also vital is the transmission provided by Texas' Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ).
As Pickens’ Mesa Power moves forward on the huge project - 5 times the size of the U.S.' present biggest wind installation - it demonstrates to the country what is possible when vision and commitment meet a supportive policy and regulatory atmosphere.
Pickens expects the far-reaching benefits of the Pampa project to be a shining example of what the New Energy economy can do. Pickens: "We are making Pampa the wind capital of the world. It's clear that landowners and local officials understand the economic benefits that this renewable energy can bring not only to landowners who are involved with the project, but also in revitalizing an area that has struggled in recent years."
Landowners are paid a lease fee and a royalty based on the output of turbines on their property. Wind has already started a boom in the once laggard West Texas counties of Nolan and Sweetwater, turning falling job and home markets into an economic explosion. (Ex: 2 new businesses opened this month. One services turbine blades, the other rents cranes for turbine installations.) Tax revenues from wind companies are bringing jobs, building roads and homes, renovating schools and hospitals.
The Pampa project is expected to do the same for Carson, Gray, Hemphill, Roberts and Wheeler counties: 1,500 jobs during construction phase and 720 after operation begins, personal income increases of $68.7 million/year during construction and $120 million after, lease payments to landowners of $65.3 million/year during operation.
Total economic output: $380 million/year during construction phase and $1.6 billion/year during operation period. Increased tax revenues to school districts in the project investment zone of $2.4 billion by 2018.
Only makes sense that the Governor, ERCOT, TPUC and CREZ would get behind opportunity like that with supportive state policies. (Is anybody in the Dakotas reading this?)
A point about policy: Mesa is moving forward with this project on the assumption that by the time it starts producing its first megawatts, in 2010 or 2011, a new Congress will have restored the federal New Energy incentives so vital to the growth of wind and solar energies.
Pickens: "I believe that Congress will recognize that it is critical not only to this project, but to renewable energy in this country, that they enact a long-term extension of the Production Tax Credits…The development of alternative energy projects, especially renewable resources such as wind power, is critical for the future of the country in the face of declining world oil resources…"
Right now, a recalcitrant minority of Republicans mired in 1950s thinking are blocking the New Energy incentives. Sign a petition telling Congress to come into the 21st century at Support Renewable Energy Tax Credits
Who would bet against a smart player holding the hottest card in the deck? (click to enlarge)
Mesa Power Places World’s Largest Single-Site Turbine Order; Purchase is step one in T. Boone Pickens’ plans to build world’s largest wind farm near Pampa, Texas
Pickens Panhandle wind project to order 667 turbines
May 15, 2008 (Bloomberg News via Houston Chronicle)
Mesa Power LLP (T. Boone Pickens, founder/CEO); General Electric; Resource Inc.
In Texas there are 4 kinds of wind: Good, better, best and Boone Pickens' wind. (click to enlarge)
Mesa Power took a giant step forward with its plans for the 4000-megawatt Pampa Wind Project by placing an order with GE Energy for the purchase of 667 turbines.
- The turbine purchase is for the 1st phase of the 4-phase Pampa Wind Project.
- All 4 phases are scheduled to be completed by 2014.
- Projected completion of Pampa project 1st phase: 2011
click to enlarge
- The Pampa Wind Project will cover 400,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle.
- Mesa Power has leases on land in Carson, Gray, Hemphill, Roberts and Wheeler counties
- Resource Inc., based in Austin, did the economic predictions on the Pampa project for Mesa.
- The 667 turbines are GE’s 1.5-megawatt industry-standard model.
- The Pampa Wind Project is planned to have a 4000-megawatt capacity, 5 times bigger than the 735.5-megawatt Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Taylor and Nolan Counties of West Texas, presently the U.S.’ biggest wind installation.
- Projected cost of Pampa project 1st phase: $2 billion.
- Texas Panhandle winds are strong and, more importantly, they blow strongest during peak electricity demand periods.
Not much doubt about who's number one - or who will be for the foreseeable future. (click to enlarge)
- Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman/CEO, GE:"T. Boone Pickens' commitment underscores the ability of wind technology to help meet the country's need for diverse sources of energy…As America's demand for energy escalates, it is clear that wind can and will play a bigger part in meeting that need. We're excited to partner with an energy visionary like T. Boone Pickens to bring our wind technology to the marketplace."
- Christine Real de Azua, spokeswoman, American Wind Energy Association: ``Such gigawatt-size projects are evidence of the strong interest in investing in wind power, to take advantage of vast, windy land in the U.S…''