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Pickens: Forget the Wind, Go With Natural Gas

Thursday, 14 Jan 2010 09:29 AM

Famed Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens is dramatically changing his position on alternative energy.

Pickens spent most of the last two years, and $62 million of his oil investing fortune, on an advertising campaign in which he sought to persuade Americans to adopt his plan for wind-based energy.

The scheme called for a massive expansion of wind energy to displace natural gas, leaving natural gas for use in vehicles, thus displacing foreign oil.

“No American with a television set could escape Mr. Pickens’s argument last year. But somehow, a mass conversion to natural gas cars failed to ensue,” a recent report in The New York Times stated.

But, now Pickens is changing his pitch.

Pickens said Wednesday he has cut in half an order for General Electric Co. wind turbines and plans to use the rest in other areas instead of Texas, where he once planned a massive wind farm, the Associated Press reported.

Pickens, who heads the hedge fund BP Capital Management LP in Dallas, purchased 333 turbines from GE, which was about half his initial order of about 687 turbines.

Pickens scrapped his plan for a 1,000-megawatt wind farm in West Texas last summer because of technical problems in getting power from the site to transmission facilities.

Pickens now is spending millions more on a new campaign, with the first advertisements scheduled to be broadcast Thursday on cable stations across the country.

His aides reckon that a stronger message, concentrating on the national security aspects of energy independence, will be quite effective after the thwarted Christmas Day airliner bombing and other, recent terrorist actions in the United States.

Natural gas is said to be the cleanest fossil fuel, emitting fewer greenhouse gases than either coal or oil.

Many energy experts say they think it is underutilized as a fuel, especially since new technologies recently unlocked huge reserves in shale gas fields across the country.

Some, however, say putting in place the infrastructure for natural gas vehicles would be too costly, and battery-powered electric cars and hybrids are a much better alternative.

Concerns are also growing that the techniques used to blast through shale rock to find gas could pollute drinking water.

But The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a new study in Texas has found that no dangerous pollutants were found to come from natural gas wells there.

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Famed Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens is dramatically changing his position on alternative energy. Pickens spent most of the last two years, and $62 million of his oil investing fortune, on an advertising campaign in which he sought to persuade Americans to adopt his...
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