T. Boone Pickens: the Face of the Future of Energy?

July 28 2008 / by Mielle Sullivan / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 15 Hot

For 80-year-old Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens the answer is blowin’ in the wind.

When you imagine of the future of U.S. energy, chances are the you don’t think of 80-year-old Texas Oil tycoons.  At least you didn’t until T. Boone Pickens began campaigning for the The Pickens Plan just a few weeks ago.  With oil prices heading towards $5 a gallon in the midst of a recession, an administration change on the horizon and the clean-tech debate drawing a great deal of attention and even more capital, the U.S. sorely needs a high profile spokesperson for energy policy change.  So is Pickens our guy?  And is the timing finally right for some serious energy policy change?

The Pickens Plan calls for a reduction in U.S. use of foreign oil by 38% in 10 years by greatly expanding wind power in the center of the country to be used towards electricity production, thus freeing up natural gas reserves to be used for transportation.  22% of U.S. electrical generation comes from natural gas.  The plan argues that if the current 1% (48 billion kWh) of power converted from wind can be expanded to 20% (960 billion kWh) then the more than 6.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas used annually to produce electricity could be used for transportation starting with industry vehicles like trucks and buses.  Furthermore, unlike oil, natural domestic gas production can increase and actually did see a 9% rise from 2007 to 2008.  U.S. natural gas reserves are twice that petroleum.

But why has Pickens chosen to promote his plan at this exact moment?  U.S. dependence on foreign oil has been an issue for at least 20 years and it’s not as if the other selling points of his plan—lower CO2 emissions of natural gas, the need to expand renewable energy infrastructure, and the potential of wind power in the U.S.—are new to the political landscape.  Environmentalists and many Democrats have been shouting these points for years.  The only thing new to these ideas is that Pickens is promoting them.  Atop in all, Pickens is a particularly unlikely renewable energy spokesperson.  Besides being a billionaire oil tycoon, he has been an outspoken supporter of the Republican party and contributed $5.5 million to help defeat John Kerry elect George W. Bush in 2004.

Continue Reading