Wind energy has suffered a minor setback. Maybe a major setback.
T. Boone Pickens, an advocate of wind energy, has announced that he is delaying a 667 turbine wind farm he was planning to develop in Texas. The question is how long will the delay last.
Four factors worked against the plan.
1. The falling price of natural gas and oil made wind energy less attractive.
2. Pickens’ hedge funds have lost almost $1 billion dollars.
3. The plan was tied to Pickens’ plan to sell water. He owns the rights to more water than anyone else in the US. At the same time that Texas landowners objected to the plan, the Department of Justice batted down the law that would have allowed Pickens to use the power of eminent domain to lay his water lines and electricity lines. The water plan was probably the deal breaker for many landowners.
Despite his considerable financial backing, Pickens’ involvement may have doomed the project from the beginning. Many critics saw the plan more as way for Pickens to cash in on his water rights than to create jobs or benefit the state. When economic conditions are better, Pickens should try again without tying his wind ambitions to his water rights. He might have much better luck.