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Pickens Pulls the Plug on Wind Farm

Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens is backing out of a planned 4,000-megawatt wind farm.

A year ago today, T. Boone Pickens, founder and chairman of BP Capital Management and oil tycoon, revealed his Pickens Plan, which called for wind farms to replace natural-gas power plants, freeing the natural gas for powering cars and trucks, all in an effort to reduce imports of oil (and probably to find new markets for domestic natural gas). In support of that plan, Pickens signed a deal for 667 wind turbines for an enormous 4,000-megawatt wind farm to be built in the Texas Panhandle.

Now that plan is in shambles. Bad credit markets and a lack of transmission lines for the wind turbines have led him to scrap the panhandle project, at least for now, he confirmed today. But he still has to do something with all of those turbines he’s ordered. “I’m committed to 667 wind turbines and I am going to find projects for them,” he said in a statement.

During the past year, he’s also backed off some from his plan to switch to natural-gas cars, which has been widely criticized as impractical, focusing instead on pushing for a fleet of natural-gas tractor trailers.

Lack of transmission is turning out to be a major impediment for wind farms. For example, most of the applications for 67,000 megawatts of wind farms in the Midwest are stuck waiting in line because of a lack of grid connections. (See “Lifeline for Renewable Power.”)

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