What Pickens Has Right, What He Has Wrong


Everybody's been talking Pickens lately, but ClimateProgress gets down and dirty. For some of the most complete analysis of the "Pickens Plan," read on:

A big wind plan would be good for the economy, particularly in the nation's job-starved rural areas. Last time I checked, farmers and ranchers nationwide could earn $5,000 annually for each tiny piece of land they lease to host a turbine. There aren't many crops -- legal crops, at least -- that can earn that kind of money.

In windy Nolan County, Texas, wind power has created 1,000 new jobs and is expected to produce $315 million in revenues. In rural Colorado, the Danish wind manufacturer Vestas is building two plants to manufacture wind blades and towers, creating hundreds of new jobs. The company reportedly is manufacturing in the United States because wind turbines built with Euros would be too expensive in the U.S. market at today's exchange rates; it may have picked Colorado because of Gov. Bill Ritter's plan to build a "new energy economy".

The biggest complaint about wind power -- that it is an intermittent resource -- can be solved with emerging storage technologies, including plug-in hybrid vehicles that recharge at night when the wind blows best and feed electricity back into the grid during the day when the vehicles are parked at home or work. That brings us to the second part of Pickens' plan and to Joe's correct judgment that using natural gas to run vehicles rather than power plants is a bad idea.


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