When one of Texas’s richest oil men bets big on wind energy, it gets attention. Yesterday NPR’s Living on Earth broadcast an interview with Mr. Pickens, who shared the salient facts about his planned wind project:
- It will be the largest in the world, he reckons, at 4,000 megawatts
- It will provide enough power for 1,300,000 homes
- It’s a $10 billion dollar project from which he plans a 15%-25% profit
Asked why he is investing in wind now, Pickens replied:
“For a number of years I’ve watched the wind turbines develop — and I feel like it’s time for it. I think that oil has peaked at 85 million barrels in the world. We’ve got to develop other forms of energy — wind, I think solar will be next, and I hope I’m still around to be in the solar deal.” (Pickens is 80 years old.
But what if Congress doesn’t vote to extend the wind Production Tax Credit?
“Well, I think they’ll vote on it. They’ll either do that or they’ll give some kind of carbon credit because, the wind has to be developed in the United States. We’re now importing 72 percent of the oil we use every day. I think everybody can see that we’re gonna break the country if we pay 700 billion dollars a year for, uh, imported oil……I’ve got a good team of people that are knowledgeable in wind energy, and I don’t worry about it. I think it’s a good project, and it’ll do well and we’ll make money. And it’ll help the country.”
Look at Pickens’s bio on Wikipedia. He grew up poor but worked hard. He became a geologist in the 50’s, which “were difficult times for the oil industry and petroleum geologists.” He stuck at it and obviously his bet on oil paid off; Pickens is worth $3 billion now. But he’s moving on — to wind. Find out more about this story in the current issue of Fast Company.