T. Boone Pickens: Kicking Off the World’s Largest Wind Farm

Our favorite oil-baron-turned-wind-power-wildcatter, T. Boone Pickens, will make the first down payment this month on 500 wind turbines for his plan to build the world’s largest wind farm in Texas, says the Guardian. Over the next four years, Pickens plans to build 2,700 wind turbines that would supply 4,000 megawatts — enough to power 1 million homes.

It’s interesting that Pickens tells the Guardian that the wind farm will cost $10 billion to build, because we’ve previously heard figures closer to $6 billion (via the WSJ). Perhaps Pickens underestimated the cost last year. As we pointed out in February, the cost of the raw materials to build turbines, as well as demand for turbines themselves, have been lifting the upfront costs of building wind farms.

And the costs of building Texas’ transmission lines, to move the power from the farms to more populated areas, has been adding up, too. The state could spend anywhere between $2.95 billion and $6.38 billion on laying new lines, according to a recent report.

But Texas and its entrepreneurs like Pickens are willing to make the investment. The state leads the nation in wind power and is building a booming industry off of the renewable energy technology. Texas not only has large stretches of windswept rural plains, but it has the kind of regulatory atmosphere that can fast-track wind projects.

The farmers who own that windswept land can also make significant money off the farms. A New York Times story mentioned a farmer that makes $500 a month for each wind turbine on his property. Pickens tells the Guardian he’s paying $10,000 and $20,000 in annual royalties for every turbine farmers allowed on their land.

And it’s becoming a point of pride for Texas — Jerry Patterson, the Texas land commissioner, told the NYT, “We’re No. 1 in wind in the United States, and that will never change.”

Here’s more coverage of the imitable T. Boone Pickens: