As the Financial Crisis Hits Home, is T. Boone Pickens Selling Wind Turbines?


What was that about zebras not changing their stripes? photo: José Eduardo Pachá

RUMOR WARNING: Though nothing can be confirmed about this rumor at this point, over at Solve Climate David Sassoon is passing on some overheard info that T. Boone Pickens may be looking to downsize his much touted largest wind farm in the world, owing to financial difficulties.

This is what Sassoon inadvertently gleaned, as well as some of his comments coming out of a recent green business conference in New York where Pickens was speaking:Are Pickens' Financial Losses Taking a Bite Out of Pampa?
So, Sassoon's waiting for Pickens to begin his talk when,

...the neighbor to my right, a guy who specializes in the sale of distressed assets -- let's call him Tim McGillicuddy -- started talking about Pickens selling off his wind turbines. We had spent a good part of the morning listening to a panel deliver bad news about how the credit crunch and plummeting oil prices are slamming renewable energy projects. Maybe Pickens had his own bad news to share about Pampa?

"You think that's what he's going to talk about?"

"Goodness, no," Tim said.

"Oh. Then you're just speculating?"

"Nope. I heard it from a banker friend of mine who was in the room when Pickens' people made the offer."

Poor Tim didn't know he was sitting next to a blogger. I was wearing a suit.

After citing a number of articles detailing some of the cutbacks which the renewable energy industry is facing due to all of the recent financial turmoil—because of which Pickens' hedge fund has reported losses of $1 billion, one-third of which was Pickens' own money—Sassoon speculates that as many of the financial details of the Pampa wind project have not been revealed there could be any number of reasons why Pickens might want to scale back. So basically, we don't know anything more than came out (presumably accidentally) from 'Tim McGillicuddy's' lips.

Pickens Omits Wind Power, Pushes Natural Gas in New York Speech
More interesting though are Sassoon's observations about the content of Pickens' speech:

So when T. Boone started talking as we ate dessert (fruit tart), what became crystal clear is that first and foremost he's an oil and gas man. In his trademark fashion, he wrote on a white board to reveal the hedge that gets his juices going: $7 worth of natural gas could provide the same energy for driving as $30 worth of gasoline from crude. Now there's a market opportunity even bigger than the state of Texas, and that's what T. Boone is after. He wants to put natural gas in every car in America. And of course, they'd have to get their gas from natural gas filling stations owned by the Clean Energy Fuels Corp. He owns 16.5 million shares of its stock that trades under the ticker CLNE.

I can't recall that he said a single word about the biggest wind farm in the world that he is building. [...]

And although Pickens said nary a word about his wind farm, he was transported with excitement when he spoke about all the natural gas that's out there waiting to be exploited -- in Appalachia, in Louisiana, in Arkansas, in Oklahoma, in West Texas, even in British Columbia.


Remember, the Pickens Plan is About Foreign Oil Imports...
As Sassoon quite correctly points out, Pickens has stated on numerous occasions that The Pickens Plan isn't about the environment or climate change directly. It is about reducing the US's imports of foreign oil, full stop. Any environmental benefits are incidental to reducing oil imports. As fossil fuel prices fall, I guess we'll have to wait and see how the renewable energy plans by former oil men like Pickens get translated into reality.

All of Sassoon's T. Boone Pickens commentary is worth reading: Is T. Boone Pickens Selling Off Some Wind Turbines?
T. Boone Pickens, Wind Power
T. Boone Pickens Gets Into the Texas Wind: 4000 Megawatts Worth
GE Can Take This To The Bank: T. Boone Orders 667 Turbines for Texas Panhandle
T. Boone Pickens On Expanded Oil Drilling: "East Coast, West Coast, ANWR, Get It All"
Poll Shows The Pickens Publicity Plan is Working

Tags: Energy | Oil | Renewable Energy | Texas | United States | Wind Power