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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