Texas billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens -- gotta love the name -- has launched a media savvy campaign to move the country away from oil to wind power. He sees the Midwest, from Texas to the Dakotas, as "the Saudi Arabia of wind power."
That might make Western New York, say, Kuwait. After all, we're the fourth windiest urban area in the nation.
Reports The Washington Post:
"Pickens has become an evangelist for wind power as a way to break the nation's dependence on foreign oil, launching an advertising blitz in which he warned: 'I've been an oilman all my life, but this is one emergency we can't drill our way out of.' "
The Pickens Plan envisions wind power producing 20 percent of the nation's electricity. It wouldn't be cheap -- with a pricetag of $1.2 trillion -- but Pickens notes that as things stand now, the U.S. will send $10 trillion overseas the next decade to buy oil.
The heart of his plan, according to muckraking blogger Phil Mattera, "is a call for large-scale expansion of wind energy to allow the country’s natural gas now being used for electricity generation to serve instead as a cleaner fuel for cars, trucks and buses." Mattera, in his Dirt Diggers Digest, notes that Pickens may have more than the national interest at heart: He also stands to make a lot of money.
Pickens is putting his money -- and he has lots of it -- where his mouth is. He is proceeding with plans to build the world's largest wind farm -- 2,700 turbines on some 200,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle -- that would provide enough electricity to power 1.3 million homes. Texas, in fact, is leading the nation in the development of wind power, as this Washington Post story details.
Success by Pickens can only help Western New York, given our wind resources. There's a small windmill farm on the Bethlehem Steel site and turbines scattered in assorted rural areas, but so far, we as a region have only scratched the surface.