Several MasterResource posts on the problems of the original Pickens Plan, and the retreat to Pickens Plan II, are worth revisiting as T. Boone continues his multi-million-dollar quest for a government-engineered energy makeover.
Pickens, like Al Gore, does not want to debate his plan–he just wants to implement it with edicts. But fundamental problems remain with Pickens I and the scaled-back Pickens II. Here is a one-two-three punch by critics:
[Pickens Plan I]: “Hard Questions for T. Boone Pickens” (Mary Hutzler: Jan. 5, 2009)
“Pickens Plan II’s Natural Gas Trucks (Don Hertzmark: March 9, 2009)
“The Strange Case of T. Boone Pickens (Rob Bradley: Feb. 9, 2009)
The media continues on balance to give Pickens the benefit of the doubt on a wind-is-good premise. But it is exactly this that needs a hard revisit.
Chris Vogel in his recent profile of Pickens in the Houston Press, for example, asserts rather than explains why windpower is good:
The advantages of wind power are numerous, and virtually everyone, from the power companies to environmentalists and politicians, agrees that it will be a significant part of the nation’s energy solution in the 21st century. Or as Pickens might say, it’s clean and it’s American, so we better use it.
No, the disadvantages of wind are numerous. The economics are bad, and reliability is worse. Redundant fossil-fuel capacity is needed to back up the intermittent output of the wind turbines. Windpower does not back out oil, it backs out natural gas for the most part. There is very little environmental bang for the ratepayer-and-taxpayer big bucks.
When will the shady origins of windpower mandates (such as the Enron provision of Texas’s 1999 renewables mandate) get some traction in the press? I explained this to Mr. Vogel for his piece, but it did not fit in the wind-is-good, Enron-is-bad view of the world.
And finally, there is opportunity cost. What if T. Boone Pickens had spend his $50–60 million on free-market energy ideas rather than statist energy nostrums? Or just left his money in the bank as savings to fuel the capitalist economy?