Cooperative Returns Nearly $1 Million To Members
Stearn's Electric Association
Each year when the Cooperative returns Capital Credits to its membership, I find myself making a comparison between the Cooperative form of business and other electric utilities. As a consumer, you are member-owners of the Cooperative. The Cooperative is governed by a Board of Directors elected from the membership. As a non-profit organization we can focus on the best interest of our consumers and not prioritize profits for outside shareholders. I like to call this the Cooperative Difference. This past year has been no different with the distribution of capital credits and the launch of our new Co-op connections program.
State view: Wind energy isn’t reducing carbon emissions
By: Rolf E. Westgard, Duluth News Tribune
Minnesota Power continues to invest in its Bison 1 and 2 North Dakota wind farms, which will transmit power across the state line to Minnesota.
Also worth noting, however, is the announced startup of Minnesota’s newest wind farm near Lakefield, which also is to transmit power to a different state. This 205-megawatt project’s output is intended entirely for Indianapolis Power and Light, helping it to meet Indiana’s mandated renewable-energy standard that at least 10 percent of fuel comes from wind, solar, or biomass by 2017.
Why the Wind Industry Is Full Hot Air and Costing You Big Bucks
By Robert Bryce
December 20, 2011
The American Wind Energy Association has begun a major lobbying effort in Congress to extend some soon-to-expire renewable-energy tax credits. And to bolster that effort, the lobby group’s CEO, Denise Bode, is calling the wind industry “a tremendous American success story.”
But the wind lobby’s success has largely been the result of its ability to garner subsidies. And those subsidies are coming with a big price tag for American taxpayers. Since 2009, AWEA’s largest and most influential member companies have garnered billions of dollars in direct cash payments and loan guarantees from the US government. And while the lobby group claims to be promoting “clean” energy, AWEA’s biggest member companies are also among the world’s biggest users and/or producers of fossil fuels.
Read full article.
Wind debate bigger than Goodhue County
The ongoing wind farm dispute in Goodhue county has obscured the announced startup for Minnesota’s newest wind farm near Lakefield.
By: Rolf Westgard, The Republican Eagle
December 14, 2011
The ongoing wind farm dispute in Goodhue county has obscured the announced startup for Minnesota’s newest wind farm near Lakefield. What is unusual about this 205 megawatt project is that none of its output will be used in Minnesota: It is intended entirely for Indianapolis Power and Light.
It will help IPL meet Indiana’s mandated renewable energy standard that at least 10 percent of IPL’s fuel source comes from wind, solar, or biomass by 2017. That’s much less than Minnesota Legislature’s demand that Xcel Energy get 25 percent from wind and solar by 2020.
At the 27 percent U.S. average capacity factor for intermittent output wind farms, the effective power of this project would be about 55 MW or one-twentieth that of Minnesota’s Prairie Island nuclear plant. The develpor, EnXco, has not disclosed the cost of this ratepayer-and-taxpayer-subsidized project, but similar developments are in the $400-500 million range. EnXco, owned by the French, can receive 30 percent of the project’s total cost upfront from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The Midwest System Operator grid will actually receive the power for transmission to Indiana. MISO or IPL will need additional backup power, probably from a natural gas plant, to supply IPL when the Lakefield wind farm isn’t producing.
Intermittent energy wind farms everywhere have created demand for additional natural gas peaker plants. These plants are kept in spinning reserve to respond rapidly during the 75 percent of the time when the wind is too light or too strong for the wind turbines to function at capacity.
IPL also has not disclosed the price it is paying for the energy from the wind farm owner, but these power purchase contracts, forced by renewable energy legislation, are typically above the current market rate for electric power.
Large electric grids maintain a constant balance with control room operators adjusting supply to meet continuing changes in power demand. Wind turbines turn themselves on and off, depending on the vagaries of the wind. As a result, wind farms have not replaced a fossil fueled power plant anywhere on earth, nor do they reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This suggests that DOE funds should be spent for wind energy research at facilities like the University of Minnesota’s Eolos Wind Research Station at UMore Park in Rosemount.
In England, Queen Elizabeth’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, has launched a withering assault on the wind turbine industry, calling England’s wind farms “a disgrace.” He also criticized the industry’s reliance on subsidies from low- and average-income electricity customers, as he accused people who support them of believing in a “fairy tale.”
A recent Sunday Telegraph audit of Britain’s 3,419 turbines reveals 2,276 are either fully or partly-owned by foreign businesses, and they receive $800 million a year in subsidies.
In 2010, Bentek Energy, a Colorado-based energy analytics firm, looked at power plant records in Colorado and Texas. Bentek concluded that despite large investments, wind-generated electricity “has had minimal, if any, impact on carbon dioxide” emissions.
The Minnesota Legislature, Congress, and the Obama administration are considering new renewable portfolio standards which would require more wind and solar power. But integrating these intermittent sources of energy with existing nuclear, coal and natural gas capacity produces cycling-induced emissions problems.
As Kevin Forbes, the director of the Center for the Study of Energy and Environmental Stewardship at Catholic University, said, “Wind energy gives people a nice warm fuzzy feeling that we’re taking action on climate change. Yet when it comes to CO2 emissions, the reality is that it’s not doing much of anything.”
Rolf E. Westgard is a professional member of Geological Society of America. He teaches energy classes for the University of Minnesota Lifelong Learning program.
A look at factors behind Xcel Energy’s pullback
December 9, 2011
By Frank Jossi
Construction projects delayed at Black Dog and Prairie Island
A sluggish economy combined with changing regulations and expiring power contracts have led Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy to put on hold the construction of additional capacity at two major Twin Cities area power plants.
Xcel announced the changes last week at an analysts’ conference and submitted them to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in a document known as a resource plan. The company’s Northern States Power Co. division, which covers the Upper Midwest, said that it also may “reassess” acquisition of wind energy as the federal production tax credits expire.
A proposal to upgrade the capacity of the Prairie Island Generating Plant has been put on hold because of escalating costs incurred during a recent renovation to the Monticello nuclear plant and to potential federal regulatory changes in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe after Japan’s tsunami in March.
A $600 million plan to replace two coal-burning units at the Burnsville-based Black Dog Generating Plant with natural gas in a “combined cycle” plant has been tabled for now.
“We don’t know today what would be the best choice in the future,” said Laura McCarten, regional vice president of customer and community services for NSP. The poor economy “is behind our request on the Black Dog plant,” she said.
Xcel has reduced its projections for new capacity by 500 megawatts, about the output of a good-size coal plant, McCarten said. The resource plan says the changes reflect lower industrial production, slower industrial energy growth, and less employment and housing than predicted.
The utility sees demand in Minnesota growing just 0.7 percent annually and energy growth at 0.5 percent, down from 1.1 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.
Other factors played a role, according to the resource plan update. The Prairie Island decision was made in part because the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will have an expanded review of all the nation’s nuclear sites. Another factor was the amount of power that could be increased as a result of an upgrade was “somewhat less than we thought,” McCarten said.
Initially, Xcel thought it could add 164 megawatts to Prairie Island, or a 15 percent bump, but revised calculations put the number at 138 megawatts, or a 13 percent increase. Perhaps just as significant was the utility’s experience with the increasing costs it incurred while overhauling its Monticello Generating Plant and adding 71 megawatts, McCarten said.
That decision doesn’t mean that Prairie Island will never get an upgrade but rather it will not have one in the near future, she said. The decision about wind acquisition, too, could change if wind power prices drop after tax credits expire, McCarten said. As it stands, Xcel has enough renewable energy credits to last several years, according to its resource plan.
Xcel also saw every one of its Wisconsin municipal utility customers — and all but one in Minnesota — decide not to renew their power contracts. Those decisions resulted in a loss of 229 megawatts for the company. “It’s significant … it’s a pretty big number,” she said.
Despite a pullback on the two projects and potentially on wind, the utility still plans to make $365 million investments at its large Sherburne County coal plant operation in the 2012-20 time frame, she said.
The money will be spent to meet “anticipated new regulations” over the next eight years, McCarten said. The next resource plan, slated for next year, will include a comprehensive study of Sherco, as it is known, which will define that plant’s role in Xcel’s energy mix.
Meanwhile, the company is not stopping any wind projects under way, McCarten added. The company has a power purchase agreement with Geronimo Wind Energy to buy 200 megawatts from the Prairie Rose Wind Farm in Pipestone and Rock counties and remains on course to meet or exceed Minnesota’s renewable energy standards, she said.
The recent resource plan updates one submitted by Xcel last year, McCarten said. The plans come at different time intervals as conditions change in the marketplace. Predicting energy use has difficult because of the economy and slower population growth.
“These forecasts have been challenging for utilities and any business, really,” she said. “You think you’re turning the corner, and it appears not to be the case. That’s why we have resource planning — it’s a continual process of planning that we don’t slavishly adhere to. We’re constantly adjusting to whatever the real situation is.”
Rolf Nordstrom, executive director of the Minneapolis-based energy policy nonprofit Great Plains Institute, said Xcel’s announcement wasn’t a surprise. The lack of a “rational energy policy” in the United States, he said, is hurting the ability of utilities to make long-term investments, especially in renewables and in upgrading plants.
The utility’s moves “make sense” in light of new greenhouse gas emission rules expected to be announced by the Environmental Protection Agency, Nordstrom said. Trying to determine what to focus on — renewable, natural gas, greater efficiency — remains elusive without a firmer idea of the regulatory environment, he added.
Lisa Daniels, executive director of Windustry, a trade group, pointed out that Xcel’s decision on wind was interesting because the cost of wind energy has plummeted. The price of wind energy “is so low it’s almost scary for anyone who has a (wind) contract,” Daniels said.
The cost of a new wind development per kilowatt hour is the same as a new coal plant, she said. But Xcel isn’t the only utility to pull back on investments, said Daniels, noting that other large utilities have done the same.
As Daniels pointed out, Xcel is the second of the state’s large utilities to make an announcement on diminishing power expectations. In November Great River Energy closed a new $437 million North Dakota plant before it even opened. The company cited declining electricity demand and suggested it may open in 2013 or later.
Xcel, the largest provider of power in Minnesota, has 3.4 million electricity customers and 1.9 million natural gas customers in eight Midwestern and Western states.
Frank Jossi is a freelance writer based in St. Paul.
Xcel puts off power plant upgrades
December 2, 2011 by Leslie Brooks Suzukamo in Pioneer Press
Xcel is far enough ahead in building or buying wind energy that it can stand pat with what it has and reassess in a couple years, McCarten said. The utility gets 17 percent of its electricity from renewable resources like wind and still can get to a state mandate of 30 percent by 2020 with its present resources.
Xcel Energy is scrapping the planned $600 million conversion of its 59-year-old coal-fired Black Dog Power Plant in Burnsville to natural gas, the utility said Thursday - at least until 2014.
The Minneapolis-based utility said that its latest forecasts show demand for electricity in 2016 will be 5 percent less than previously forecast, according to Laura McCarten, regional vice president for Northern States Power Minnesota, the Xcel unit covering the Upper Midwest.
The Black Dog project would have more than doubled the plant's output from 253 megawatts to 700 megawatts and reduced harmful emissions. Xcel also will reassess its plans to increase the power output at its Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant near Red Wing, Minn., and hold off on any new wind projects, the utility said.
Xcel filed an update Thursday to the Resource Plan it filed last year with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, citing significant changes since then.
The utility still believes the 164-megawatt boost is necessary at the 1,100-megawatt Prairie Island plant, but conditions have changed enough to warrant a second look by Xcel, the commission and others, McCarten said.
The utility was expecting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to approve the increase in power, called an "uprate," in time to get the work done by 2014 or 2015 but it now looks like the approval process will push any modifications back up to 2016, McCarten said.
The NRC is taking longer because it wants to incorporate lessons learned from the meltdown disaster at Japan's Fukushima power plants this spring, McCarten said.
Xcel now estimates the boost in power would cost more than the $250 million previously estimated.
Xcel also has discovered that uprating a nuclear power plant is harder than it looks after running into snags on a similar project at its Monticello Nuclear Power Plant this year. Equipment problems have led the utility to put off the work until next year.
"We still continue to believe this is the most cost-effective way to increase output," McCarten said.
The decision to hold off on any new wind farms after the completion of a 200-megawatt farm called Prairie Rose in southwest Minnesota next year is related to tax credits.
Congress appears willing to let a federal production tax credit for renewable energy to expire at the end of next year, McCarten said. The credit cuts production costs by 25 percent, and without them, wind farms become less attractive.
Xcel is far enough ahead in building or buying wind energy that it can stand pat with what it has and reassess in a couple years, McCarten said. The utility gets 17 percent of its electricity from renewable resources like wind and still can get to a state mandate of 30 percent by 2020 with its present resources and wind credits it received for adding wind earlier than required, she said.
Environmentalists had hailed the planned conversion of Black Dog because it would finally phase out its use of coal, which spews carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The plant did have a couple of natural gas turbines added years ago.
McCarten said new federal emissions rules expected in 2014 could change plans again. The new rules are not yet set, but are likely to be unfriendly to coal-fired plants, so Xcel could shut down the plant's remaining coal burners and build new natural gas turbines, switch the coal burners to natural gas or buy natural gas power elsewhere, she said.
Leslie Brooks Suzukamo can be reached at 651-228-5475. Follow him at twitter.com/suzukamo.
Issues with Renewable Energy
This morning I put on a 45± minute energy presentation for the NC legislators (+ selected other invitees). I also took an additional 30± minutes of questions after my talk.
There were about a hundred in attendance (standing room only), and I was the sole speaker.
I broke the presentation material down into two parts:
1 - a very condensed version of EnergyPresentation.Info
2 - a discussion about the merits of NC's RPS (called Senate Bill 3*, passed in 2007).
A key message was to get rid of the RPS, or at least make substantial changes (which would effectively disqualify industrial wind).
This meeting was setup by the NC Speaker of the House — who I didn't even know and had never met. He did that based on a request of a person I had only met about a month ago, who the Speaker did know.
I'm telling you this to convey a few messages:
1 - Often (despite our thinking otherwise) legislators are interested in hearing other views.
2 - What's needed is a connection with just one influential person in the legislature. (There are always several such influential people.)
3 - You don't have to be a personal friend with that person, as someone else can make the introduction.
4 - If a state does cancel or appropriately modify their RPS, the local results would be profoundly beneficial — and save a LOT of local effort.
5 - In NC's case the RPS was passed by a Democratic legislature, which is now Republican. States with a similar situation have the best chance.
6 - Some representatives from the utilities industry also came. They were supportive of my comments.
7 - There were also several Sierra Club members there. They obviously were not happy, but didn't challenge anything I said at the end.
8 - Remember that this is a public relations issue at heart. Even if the state does nothing, just getting an opportunity to put some balance in the discussion can be very worthwhile.
At this point I have no idea what will happen in NC, but the response I have received so far has been very favorable.
I posted the slides of my talk online, and you are welcome to use whatever parts of it will benefit you in your location. I believe that the analogy I used in part 2 will be applicable to almost everyone.
john droz, jr.
WIND ENERGY IN MINNESOTA
Reject All Energy Mandates: It’s Just Another Subsidy
Billion$of federal tax dollars + State mandate = wind energy in MN
point of having electrical generation is to meet the electrical demands
of consumers. When you plug something in, or a business has an
electrical need, we want the electricity to be available to us. The
electricity on the grid, on the distribution lines and in your wall
socket is not stored. The electrical providers have the task of putting
electricity onto the electrical grid when and where it is needed by
load power comes from coal, nuclear and hydro. All are predictable,
steady and relatively inexpensive. These sources can‟t be turned on and
off suddenly to meet daily peak customer demand. Peak demand is met
primarily by natural gas peaking plants.
is not base load. Wind is not peak load. Wind is more like hot flashes
during menopause: it‟s going to happen, but there‟s no telling when, how
long, or how strong. This also tends to have a destabilizing effect on
US produces almost no electricity from "oil" with the exception of some
diesel peaking plants - there is no relationship between "foreign oil"
and electricity. Foreign oil products go in the gas tank; electricity
comes via power lines to your outlet.
Click here to read more!
MN Commerce Dept. Weighs in on Alliant Energy Rate Hike
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's been a much debated topic for the last couple of months Alliant Energy's proposed rate increase. The debate has drawn a big response from the public. On Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Commerce weighed in saying that hike should be cut in half.
For those who would be affected 11 percent sounds a lot better than 22 percent...
Wind farm developer reports uncertainty in industry
Posted: 3:30 pm Mon, January 17, 2011
By Bob Geiger
Mortenson Construction has declared the wind energy industry “challenging and uncertain” after developing 100 wind farms in the United States and Canada.
Posted December 7th, 2010
MUST SEE 25 MINUTE FILM!
Europe’s Ill Wind is a film about the views of people living near existing or planned wind farm developments. Their objections have been dismissed by the wind industry, government and pro-wind campaigners as selfish NIMBYism, leaving unanswered many questions about the reliability and environmental credentials of wind energy.
Click here to see the film.
Posting from www.KARE11.com
Xcel Energy wants to hike base electric rates
MINNEAPOLIS -- Northern States Power Company-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company, asked the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to approve a base electric rate increase for 2011 and 2012 on Wednesday.
The company provides electric service to 1.2 million customers in Minnesota.
"This case is needed to fund important infrastructure improvements, ensure compliance with increasing regulatory requirements, and respond to changes in the economy," said Judy Poferl, president and CEO of NSP-Minnesota, in a news release. "While we have worked to manage costs and increase our efficiency, we are not able to avoid this rate request. The increase will support our ability to provide our customers high quality, reliable electric service at a good value, both now and over the long term."
The company requests an increase of approximately $150 million (5.6 percent) in base electric rates in 2011, and an additional $48 million (1.8 percent) in 2012, for a total of $198 million (7.4 percent) effective Jan. 1, 2012.
The majority of the 2012 increase is necessary for expected costs in the coming year for the previously approved Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant power increase and life extension projects.
"The request for 2012 will help delay a subsequent rate case as we will continue to make significant investments in our system, including the important projects at our Monticello nuclear plant," said Poferl.
As part of this filing, Xcel Energy seeks implementation of interim rates effective Jan. 2, 2011. Under the company's interim rate proposal, a typical residential customer's monthly bill would increase by approximately 5.5 percent, or $4.09, based on use of 675 kilowatt-hours. A typical small business customer's monthly bill would increase by approximately 5.4 percent, or $6, based on use of 1,035 kilowatt-hours.
Approximately half of the company's 2011 request is related to costs associated with infrastructure investments, primarily at the utility's two nuclear plants, but also investments to improve reliability of its transmission and distribution systems. Compliance with new regulatory measures, such as security, emissions controls and reliablity, account for more than 10 percent of the request.
The large majority of remaining costs are due to various economic trends, such as reduced sales, higher health care costs, and a loss in value of the employee pension fund that requires the company to fund the plan for the first time since 1994.
In addition, Xcel Energy requests to modify customers' bills by moving some costs now being recovered as separate surcharges into base rates. Since those costs are already included on customers' bills, the move will result in no change in overall bills.
This includes costs for the Metropolitan Emissions Reduction Program, which included upgrading or repowering three major Twin Cities-area coal plants, as well as construction costs for the Grand Meadow Wind Farm in southeastern Minnesota and Nobles Wind Farm in southwestern Minnesota.
Xcel increases forecast for sales, costs
Posted: 1:14 pm Thu, October 28, 2010
By Bob Geiger
Bloomberg News contributed to this report
Xcel Energy Inc. announced Thursday that power sales and operation and maintenance costs will increase more than forecast this year.
Power sales will increase as much as 1.4 percent and costs will rise as much as 9 percent, Chief Financial Officer David Sparby said during an investor conference call.
Steve Roalstad, director of communications for Minneapolis-based Xcel, said the utility plans to file for a rate-hike increase with state legislators in November.
That request, which will be made before Minnesota Public Utility Commission (MPUC) members, comes about two years after Xcel filed for a $156 million rate-hike in November 2008, or just over 6 percent.
MPUC trimmed $70 million from Xcel’s requested rate increase after a series of hearings following the late 2008 request.
But increased costs of generating and distributing power remain the norm, Roalstad said.
“We’re going to be spending about $1 billion a year for the foreseeable future,” he said.
OVERBLOWN: Windpower on the Firing Line (Part I)
by Jon Boone
September 13, 2010
Windfall in New York
September 20, 2010, 9:00 pm
By STANLEY FISH
Foreign Firms Dominate Wind Energy in U.S., Land Stimulus Dollars
Contributor: Russ Choma
Great River Energy
Keeping Renewable Energy Affordable
In 2007, the Minnesota Legislature passed an aggressive Renewable Energy Standard (RES) requiring that 25 percent of Minnesota’s energy come from renewable sources by 2025. Minnesota utilities already are nearly halfway to meeting that standard, with about 10 percent of their generation coming from renewable sources, mostly wind energy.
Overall, energy from renewable sources has proven to be more expensive than traditional resources and also has some unforeseen price premiums (particularly in the overnight hours). We are sensitive to the rate impact of integrating renewable energy on our members and review proposals to ensure they will not excessively raise member rates. The RES legislation included a safety valve to protect customers from excessive rate
increases for renewable energy. Legislators recognized that there is a limit to what customers are willing or able to pay for their electricity.
Now some legislators are considering a new tariff originally designed to encourage additional renewable energy development by reducing financial risk for developers. The Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT) would establish a higher-than-market fixed price for renewable energy in order to encourage more renewable projects.
Utilities like Great River Energy would be required to pay these artificially high prices to renewable energy developers in order to purchase the green power needed to satisfy the RES mandate. These extra costs would be passed on to our members.
In effect, the REFIT guarantees renewable energy developers a profit out of ratepayers’ pockets, even if the energy projects are inefficient or not cost-effective.
The REFIT: Wrong for Minnesota. Several factors make the REFIT a poor policy choice for Minnesota:
• The REFIT is unnecessary because Minnesota already has a renewable energy mandate,
providing ample incentive for new renewable energy development.
• The REFIT would shift the financial risk of new renewable energy developments from
the developers to the ratepayers, putting customers on the hook for excessive costs.
• The REFIT would actually discourage new energy developments because the excessive
costs would be a disincentive for utilities to buy more renewable energy than the state
• Our emission reduction goals are not well served by making renewable energy more
expensive than it needs to be in comparison to non-renewable energy sources.
Great River Energy opposes the Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT). We believe that
the interests of all Minnesotans are best served by policies that keep energy affordable, and
minimize financial risk to customers and ratepayers.
The testimony of Steven F. Hayward, PhD, to the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Hearing on "Green Jobs" and Energy Investment on 4-22-09. He clearly states that "increased federal investment in existing renewable energy technologies should be subjected to more rigorous scrutiny." Click here to read more.
The Wrong Way To Get to Green
April 27 2010
By TREVOR BUTTERWORTH
Once you've carpeted the wilderness with wind-farm turbines, and crushed any guilt about the birds you're about to kill, prepare to be underwhelmed and underpowered.
Xcel outlines system investments, new rates
Posted: 5:04 pm Mon, August 2, 2010
By Bob Geiger
Expect more, pay more.
More renewable energy, combined with higher costs for investing in electricity transmission, generating facilities and development of additional wind energy, were contained in an Upper Midwest Resource Plan that Xcel Energy filed Monday with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC).
The plan lays out the Minneapolis-based utility’s plan for generating energy from 2011 through 2025. Click here to read the full article.
HOW LESS BECAME MORE...Wind, Power and Unintended Consequences in the Colorado Energy Market
Wind energy promises a clean, renewable resource that uses no fossil fuel and generates zero emissions. Careful examination of the data suggests that the numbers do not add up as expected. Click here to Read More
Wilting at Windmills Posted by Long Islander
on June 22, 2010 at 7:00am
Summertime, and the living is breezy --- NOT. Just as the air conditioners are starting to crank up in earnest, the wind turbines stop turning. They hardly produce any electricity in the windier winter. And they produce almost zero electricity when Maine turns on its air conditioners. Brilliant, simply brilliant.
Click here to read the full article.
Master Resource Free Market Energy Blog
: Grass Roots information on Wind energy
Wind turbine noise concerns prompt investigation
by Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
August 4, 2009
T. Boone Pickens’s Mighty Wind
Pickens isn't waiting for the government. He's buying a Honda Civic GX, which runs on natural gas. And he's building a $10 billion wind farm in the Texas panhandle, where he's persuading neighboring ranchers to plant turbines in their fields. But even Pickens isn't averse to the sort of NIMBY-ism that has impeded new energy infrastructure. "There are no turbines on my ranch, because I think they are ugly."