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Pickens Aims to Build World's Largest Wind Farm


By Betsy Blaney
Associated Press
June 14, 2007


Billionaire T. Boone Pickens is planning to cash in on the
wind energy boom by building the world's largest wind farm in
West Texas.

The oil tycoon wants to install large wind turbines in parts
of four Panhandle counties in a project that would produce up
to 4,000 megawatts of electricity, Pickens spokesman Mike
Boswell said Wednesday.

If Pickens' company, Mesa Power LP, does build the wind farm,
it would be the largest in the world, American Wind Energy
Association spokeswoman Susan Williams Sloan said. It would
generate more than five times the 735 megawatts produced at
the present largest wind farm near Abilene.

One megawatt is enough to power 250 homes in Texas, Sloan said.

Pickens' proposal, which would cost as much as $6 billion,
would fall just short of nearly doubling what Texas had at the
end of 2006, when wind power totaled about 2,700 megawatts, she said.

Not all planned wind projects in Texas become reality, though.
Earlier this week, a developer who planned to build what would
have been the nation's largest offshore wind farm in South
Texas called off the project because it didn't make economic sense.

Texas, which stood to gain from the project because it owns
the submerged land up to 10.3 miles from the state's coast,
learned a month ago that Babcock & Brown Ltd., an Australian
investment bank, was giving up its 30-year lease on nearly
40,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico off Padre Island.

Construction of Pickens' project would begin in 2010 and
involve as many as 200,000 acres in Roberts, Gray, Hemphill
and Wheeler counties, Boswell said. The farm would have as
many as 2,000 wind turbines, and some would be large enough to
generate 2.5 megawatts each.

Pickens met Tuesday in Pampa with about 250 area landowners.

He couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

"We have entered into a limited number of agreements with a
limited number of landowners to put in some test towers,"
Boswell said.

Landowner deals for Mesa Power were expected to be finalized
by the summer's end, he said.

Another of Pickens' companies, Mesa Water Inc., has plans to
pump water from West Texas and sell it to urban areas. Some
landowners who attended the Tuesday meeting already had sold
Pickens the rights to water from the Ogallala Aquifer beneath
their land.

"We've mated those two together but haven't said you have to
have one to have the other," Boswell said.

Pickens' wind farm proposal could get help from the state. The
Public Utility Commission this week began hearings involving
parties interested in developing wind farms and in installing
transmission systems.

In 2005, Texas legislators passed a law directing the
commission to establish Competitive Renewable Energy Zones.

 

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