Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wind Energy

T. Boone Pickens is a man who not only has a vision; he has a plan. He is a Texas billionaire who, ironically, made his billions in the oil business. Now he is pushing what he calls, the Pickens Plan. The Pickens Plan (www.pickensplan.com) describes his plan to use wind energy to replace 20% of the American use of electricity in the coming 10 years.

T. Boone shows how our dependence on foreign oil has grown out of all proportion. In 1970, 24% of all foreign oil used was imported; in 1990, that figure rose to 42%; and, now in 2008, the United States imports 70% of its oil. That amounts to $700 billion dollars a year spent on foreign oil – that’s 4 times the annual cost of the Iraqi war.

It has been shown that the while the United States of America has only 4% of world population; it uses 25% of the oil. A plan is definitely needed.

T. Boone Pickens has predicted that if the U.S. could replace the 22% of electricity currently supplied by natural gas and replace it with wind energy, the U.S. could save approximately $3 billion a year. He suggests moving the 22% of energy created by natural gas into the transportation portion of energy allotment. Natural gas is the cleanest form of natural energy, so far, for long-distance transportation of goods.

He further predicts that if things are left the way they are the cost of purchasing foreign oil in 10 years will be $10 trillion – the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.

T. Boone Pickens stands behind his claim that the United States is the Saudi Arabia of wind power.

He points to the fact that world-wide studies have shown the Great Plains States (extending into Canada) has the greatest wind energy potential in the world. The Department of Energy has agreed that this wind corridor can provide 20% of America’s electricity. In fact, North Dakota alone has the potential to supply wind-derived electricity to over ¼ of America. Pretty amazing stuff!! Don’t forget – Canada has this same potential as the wind corridor extends into Canada from the Great Plains States.

A study done by Stanford University in 2005 shows that there is enough wind power worldwide to generate 7 times the energy needed. This amazing fact becomes even more amazing when you realize that the study was based on only 20% of this wind power being captured and harnessed. A 3-megawatt wind turbine produces enough energy in one year to replace 12, 000 barrels of imported oil.

The cost to build a wind farm in this corridor that stretches from the Texas panhandle to North Dakota does not come cheap; however, it is a one-time cost. It would cost $1 trillion to build the farm and another $200 billion to build the infrastructure necessary to transmit that energy from the wind farm to the ultimate destination our residential homes. It won’t take many years at $700 billion a year to recoup this money and more.


  • Creation of new construction and maintenance jobs
  • Thousands of locals will be employed in the building of these wind farms. These are high-paying, highly-skilled jobs on a par with aerospace jobs
  • No threat to farming and/or grazing so there is no threat to human health, animal health, local food production and/or existing local economies
  • Natural gas now used to produce electricity can be used in the transport business. Natural gas emissions are 23% lower than diesel and 30% lower than gasoline, according the California Energy Commission, making it the cleanest transportation fuel available today
  • Once the turbine is built, the energy it produces does not create any green-house gases or any other pollutant
  • Many people love the look of a wind farm
  • Could be a tourist attraction
  • Areas to which electricity has NOT found its way can use wind turbines to produce their own
    Wind turbines come in many shapes and sizes making them available to everyone from a single household to and entire village or town
  • Doesn’t contribute to acid rain
  • It is one of the cheapest sources of renewable energy technologies
  • Wind energy requires very little maintenance (approx. 40 hours/year – 20 hours twice yearly)


  • Wind speed is not constant and there are days when it does not blow at all
  • Many people find the sight of a wind farm to be a blot on the landscape
  • The turning of the blades is noisy. They produce a swooshing sound equivalent to the sound of a family car traveling 70 mph. This noise is produced as long as the blades are turning – this means nighttime as well
  • There is pollution involved in the manufacturing of wind turbines
  • Suitable areas for wind farms are often near a coast or shoreline where the property is very expensive
  • Capable of killing birds - good knowledge of migratory routes is essential
  • Can affect TV reception if you live nearby
  • Wind turbines may cause loss of habitat to wildlife due to the disturbance from its noise, movement of blades, subtle food chain changes and electromagnetic fields. The electromagnetic fields can affect the sonar systems of some animal species

Just in case you think the use of wind power is a new technology, think tulips and wooden shoes. The Babylonians and Chinese used wind technologies to pump the water for irrigating their crops inland 4,000 years ago; what about, sailing ships, paragliding…….

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