T. Boone Pickens has postponed plans for a multibillion-dollar project to build the world’s biggest wind farm in Texas, citing funding and transmission issues.
The Texas oilman’s Mesa Power LLP had announced plans for a four-phase project to add 4,000 MW of wind power to the Texas grid in May last year. The $2 billion Pampa Wind Project, which would have consisted of 667 GE wind turbines in the Texas Panhandle, was to be completed in 2014.
But in November 2008, Pickens announced that he was scaling back the project because of the capital market crunch and fall-off of natural gas prices. He continued to solicit support for The Pickens Plan, however, a $58 million public relations campaign to wean the U.S. from its reliance on foreign oil with natural gas and wind energy.
On Wednesday, Pickens told POWERnews in an e-mailed statement that he would continue his commitment to wind energy and to developing wind projects in the U.S. and even possibly Canada. “The capital markets have dealt us all a setback and I’m less aggressive with the Panhandle project than I have been,” he said.
Pickens will now reportedly build three or four smaller wind farms, each with about 150 turbines, around the Midwest and Texas, according to The Dallas Morning News, though he has not yet settled on locations. GE is expected to start delivering the ordered wind turbines in the first quarter of 2011.
The Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) has assigned almost $5 billion of transmission projects to be constructed in Texas’ Competitive Renewable Energy Zones. The new lines, expected to be in service within four or five years, will eventually transmit 18,456 MW of wind power from power-heavy West Texas and the Panhandle to highly populated metropolitan areas of the state. None of the lines follows the path to Mesa, where Pickens’ massive wind farm was to be sited, however.
“I’m committed to 667 wind turbines and I am going to find projects for them,” Pickens said. “I had hoped that Pampa would be the starting point, but transmission issues and the problem with the capital markets make that unfeasible at this point. I expect to continue development of the Pampa project, but not at the pace that I originally expected.”
Sources: The Dallas Morning News, POWERnews