Saturday, August 16, 2008
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Texas oil billionaire a huge proponent of wind farms

T. Boone Pickens says they help local economies

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[August 16, 2008]  DALLAS -- America is addicted to foreign oil. It's an addiction that threatens our economy, our environment and our national security. It touches every part of our daily lives and ties our hands as a nation and a people.

RestaurantThe addiction has worsened for decades and now it's reached a point of crisis.

In 1970, we imported 24 percent of our oil.
Today it's nearly 70 percent and growing.

As imports grow and world prices rise, the amount of money we send to foreign nations every year is soaring. At current oil prices, we will send $700 billion out of the country this year alone -- that's four times the annual cost of the Iraq war.

Projected over the next 10 years, the cost will be $10 trillion -- it will be the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.

America uses a lot of oil. Every day 85 million barrels of oil are produced around the world. And 21 million of those are used here in the United States.


That's 25 percent of the world's oil demand. Used by just 4 percent of the world's population.

Can't we just produce more oil?

World oil production peaked in 2005. Despite growing demand and an unprecedented increase in prices, oil production has fallen over the last three years. Oil is getting more expensive to produce, harder to find and there just isn't enough of it to keep up with demand.

The simple truth is that cheap and easy oil is gone.

What's the good news?

The United States is the Saudi Arabia of wind power

Studies from around the world show that the Great Plains states are home to the greatest wind energy potential in the world -- by far.


The Department of Energy reports that 20 percent of America's electricity can come from wind. North Dakota alone has the potential to provide power for more than a quarter of the country.

Today's wind turbines stand up to 410 feet tall, with blades that stretch 148 feet in length. The blades collect the wind's kinetic energy. In one year, a 3-megawatt wind turbine produces as much energy as 12,000 barrels of imported oil.

Wind power currently accounts for 48 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year in the United States -- enough to serve more than 4.5 million households. That is still only about 1 percent of current demand, but the potential of wind is much greater.

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A 2005 Stanford University study found that there is enough wind power worldwide to satisfy global demand seven times over -- even if only 20 percent of wind power could be captured.

Building wind facilities in the corridor that stretches from the Texas Panhandle to North Dakota could produce 20 percent of the electricity for the United States at a cost of $1 trillion. It would take another $200 billion to build the capacity to transmit that energy to cities and towns.

That's a lot of money, but it's a one-time cost. And compared with the $700 billion we spend on foreign oil every year, it's a bargain.

An economic revival for rural America

Developing wind power is an investment in rural America.

To witness the economic promise of wind energy, look no farther than Sweetwater, Texas.

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Sweetwater was typical of many small towns in middle America. With a shortage of good jobs, the youth of Sweetwater were leaving in search of greater opportunities. And the town's population dropped from 12,000 to under 10,000.

When a large wind power facility was built outside of town, Sweetwater experienced a revival. New economic opportunity brought the town back to life, and the population has grown back up to 12,000.

In the Texas Panhandle, just north of Sweetwater, is the town of Pampa, where T. Boone Pickens' Mesa Power is currently building the largest wind farm in the world.

In addition to creating new construction and maintenance jobs, thousands of Americans will be employed to manufacture the turbines and blades. These are high-skill jobs that pay on a scale comparable to aerospace jobs.

Plus, wind turbines don't interfere with farming and grazing, so they don't threaten food production or existing local economies.

[Text from file available at]



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