Thursday, August 07, 2008

More on the Pickens Plan

Kevin Drum had a good pair of posts, pro and con, about T. Boone Pickens' plan to build windmills in a corridor extending from Texas to North Dakota.

His entire post is here, but Kevin says, in part:

Well, as near as I can tell, here's the story. Pickens wants to build his electricity transmission facilities on a strip of land 250 feet wide and 250 miles long that starts at his farm in Roberts County, Texas, and terminates in Dallas. Why that particular strip? Because Pickens has been buying up massive water rights from the Ogallala Aquifer and he wants to pipe that water to Dallas at huge profit. Unfortunately, pipeline right-of-way is pretty hard to acquire, so Pickens figured out a way to get some help: he formed a little water district headed by his wife and a friend and then convinced the Texas legislature that water plus wind electricity was a good reason to use its power of eminent domain to hand over the land to him for a song. Wind power wasn't really the motivation for this land snatch, it was just a sweetener for a water deal.

A correspondent answered:

Whether we like it or not, the alternative energy revolution is going to be driven in significant part by tycoons or large companies. They will use the political process and their clout to their advantage at every point. And there will be scandal, absurdity, and gross enrichment. The tradeoff is more jobs, a young and growing domestic alternative energy market that competes with oil, keeps prices reasonable, and begins to swing the pendulum of greenhouse gas production in the other direction. We will always evaluate whether and to what extent these goals are being achieved.

What I like about the plan is that it makes the leap from simply calling on government to approve X or prime the pump in other ways, to saying we are going to do X, regardless of a national energy policy. Other companies that have either stood on the sidelines or actively thwarted any attempts through the legislatures to create the markets and incentives necessary to help foment this type of market (Pickens included) will have to respond.

I think that's right.

No comments: