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Cost Estimates of T. Boone's Colossal Wind Farm Keep Rising

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T. Boone Pickens, the oil-baron-turned-wind-power-wildcatter, keeps bumping up the estimated cost of the world’s largest wind farm, which he’s building in Texas. Pickens tells the Living On Earth radio show that the whole 4,000 megawatt wind project, including the cost of building his own transmission lines, will cost a bloomin’ $12 billion. He’s already put in an order for at least $2 billion worth of wind turbines from GE, which is enough to power 300,000 homes (the completed wind farm is estimated to power 1.3 million homes).

Back in April, he told the Guardian the project would cost $10 billion (likely before he added transmission line costs), and admitted to them that that size and cost was “mind boggling.” And that’s up from just last September, when he told the Wall Street Journal that the project would cost $6 billion.

So, why the rising price tag? The price of building wind farms has been going up as the cost of the raw materials to build the turbines, as well as demand for turbines themselves, have been lifting the upfront costs. And the costs of building Texas’ transmission lines, which wind farms need to bring the power to the people, are proving expensive, too. Texas could spend anywhere between $2.95 billion and $6.38 billion on laying new lines, according to a recent report.

Pickens is willing to spend another $2 billion on building transmission lines for his massive wind farm, instead of waiting for the state or a utility to build them. He just can’t wait for slow-moving third parties to hold him back. In true Pickens style he explains his reasoning to Living on Earth:

So to fit the schedule of when we’re gonna be ready to start spinning, which will be the last of 2011, we need to have transmission in place at that time, and this is the only way we can time it to work that way. And, see, everything has gotta happen fast for me, because I’m 80 years old.

Gotta love that.

Photo courtesy of wikimedia

24 Responses to “Cost Estimates of T. Boone's Colossal Wind Farm Keep Rising”

  1. I would like to add just a few other notes here that seemed to be overlooked about any comparison to costs. How many full time employees does it cost to run a Nuclear power plant/ And what is the annual payroll cost?
    Let’s do the same for a wind farm for employee cost. I may not be a rocket scientist, but I would guess the payroll and other employee costs significently less with wind verses Nuclear. That is where the real cost savings are with wind.
    Now calculate that into the 60 year scenario. And don’t forget, the wind is free, while the nuclear material to keep the reactor running has a price tag as well.
    Also the sunk cost to set up the facility seems less expensive for wind. GE 2.5 turbines are $3.5 mil furnished and installed according to their website. This article does not give a count on how many wind turbins are in Pickens’ wind farm.
    I think a bit more COST accounting needs to be examined in the comparison of wind to nuclear.
    And the big answer to maintaining wind power consistancy for peak hours when there is no wind . . . we don’t need no stinkin’en batteries, we need to convert unused electricity into Hydrogen. We are still awaiting the coming of the hydrogen automobile, aren’t we??? So let’s get a head start on manufacturing a hydrogen storage facility along the windmills to convert unused electricity into hydrogen, which can be stored, and later reconverted to electricity for peak demand, or for that automobile runnung on hydrogen.
    So does anyone know how much a hydrogern facility would cost?
    And frankly, I think T. Boone Pickens is paying some higher that normal costs, but this is a private entity and he is free to pay anyone any price he wants to pay.

  2. This stuff is crazy. Wind generated power runs about 30 cents a kWatt and Solar about 50 cents. Compare this to all other generating sources at about 8 cents. WE WILL PAY FOR THIS difference in our bills, and WHY? AND it gets worse. Wind only blows about 1/3 of the time, then what do we do? Solar is good for about 1/2 the time AT BEST. The insanity continues. Last night I saw a PBS story where people were working on ways to store wind and solar power for when the wind does not blow and the sun does nto shine. How much will that add to the cost of a KW? Insane.

    This is one hundred percent stupidity and political.

    There is ZERO reason for any of this. Ok, you believe in global warming. Let’s take a step back. HELLO!!!! Nuclear power produces ZERO carbon and costs 6 to 8 cents per KW. HELLO!

    Stop the insanity.

    And if you worry about nuclear waste, which is also silly, but ok; look into nuclear power generated from Thorium.

  3. As a country, we Americans should spend massive amounts of our taxpayer dollars to eliminate coal energy production completely. Even though we have over a hundred years of reserves and unfavorable emissions are gradually reducing.

    Maybe we should focus entirely on geothermal energy, except the construction cost are high per kwh, and the good sites tend to be in remote areas we should not spoil.

    Let’s move completely to solar panels and cover or shade large swaths of land. But then we would have to engineer huge battery capacity for overnight demand.

    Maybe we should just raise wind turbines, but we still need the batteries and watch out for flying ice and shattered blades.

    That leaves nuclear, biomass, hydro, natural gas and others with their own unique benefits and drawbacks.

    The point here is that they ALL have their place to help us meet our growing energy demands. What we really need is the methodology to put these new, cleaner, and renewable electrons into our cars so we can stop exporting trillions of dollars each year to maintain our crude oil addiction

  4. Yeah, Pickens’ turbines were not turning. In the meantime, our nuclear power plant was shut down due to abnormalities and we still have no place to safely store the radioactive waste for 500,000 years, the climate is destabilizing faster than they thought, with irreversible damage and you are putting down wind power???

  5. In the US, nuclear waste disposal costs are built into the rates (as part of operating/liscensing costs the plant is charged by the NRC). NRC also has charges for security, inspections, etc. This is why operations costs are a bit higher than other fuel sources, but this is balance by low cost for fuel, which is also much much less volatile than gas, coal and petroluem. Per the disposal cost works out to be ~0.2 cents /kWh.

  6. What seems to get lost in the discussion is cost per operating KW. As a consumer my main concern is cost per KW, proponents of different sources of green energy seem to want to minimize that. If you have 100,000 people or better on energy assistance at current rates, how many would you have if you drove power prices up 20%? Most low income people are working and don’t want assistance from the government. In my state I see upper income people such as university professors advocating for green power, but they can afford it. It’s also wise to consider WHAT’S IN IT FOR PICKENS. Living in a northern state keeping warm can be expensive?

  7. The key difference in the total costs of wind and nuclear is that folks who are proponents of nuclear do not figure the costs of the nuclear waste storage. What about the costs of building nuclear waste storage?
    Regarding providing power “mostly when its not needed” wind power is most available during the day. Isn’t that when it is needed?
    Also, regarding nuclear, I have not seen any costs associated with security issues or with clean up such three-mile island.
    Please do write if you have factual numbers for any of these costs. I am looking for cradle to cradle costs.

  8. The cost per KW of the Bush administration’s foray into clean coal – $6,500. FutureGen’s budget is up to $1.8 billion for the construction of a 275 MW power plant. Nevermind the future costs of sourcing coal, paying miners, transportation of coal, maintenance of complex systems (and the fact that you STILL have to get rid of mercury and toxins in the fly ash)…how much does additional wind cost?

  9. tom c gray

    Notice the exorbitant costs to build totally unreliable power generators: Dominion is building a 1600 MW nuclear plant in Virginia : estimated cost : $4,000
    per kilowatt. Pickens is building these useless windturbines (T.Boone don’t understand that “nuklare stuff”) and spending at least $4,000 per kilowatt. But those are rated, not actual, capacities, which in the case of the nuclear plant would be about the same, since nuclear plants typically operate above 95% of their rated capacity, but wind operates anywhere from 18% to 37% of its capacity. Typically 25% would be close, so the actual
    cost per generated kilowatt is closer to $16,000 for
    wind power. But nuclear plants last 60 years, at least twice as long as a windmill, making the proper comparison figure for wind closer to $32,000 per kilowatt (for 60 yeasr). But that’s not the end of the excessive wind costs : wind cannot meet peak demand needs and so we must build new , controllable plants every year when our demand increases 2%. Thus wind power must be duplicated, making its comparative costs even greater. It’s obvious that the global wind industry and it environmentalist shills are defrauding the public
    when they make their preposterously misleading ecomonic arguments. Wind costs a bundle, and produces small amounts of unreliable, unpredictable power , mostly when its not needed.

    • Joe Archer


      I’m real skeptical about the costs I see quoted for wind power, not to mention the other renewables. The wind power institute is quoting something like 6.5 cents a KwH but I’m guessing they exclude those issues of capacity factor. Can you add some info on where your numbers come from. Thanx for telling it like it is. Environmentalists make the robber barrens, the railroads of the 19th century, and J.P. Morgan look like Sunday school teachers.