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Looks like former oil-baron turned clean power advocate, T. Boone Pickens, won’t be building his wind farm after all, according to a report in the Minneapolis StarTribune. Pickens has reportedly sold off all of his stake in a wind farm in Goodhue County, Minnesota, which has been under discussion for about two years.
If you remember back four years ago — when clean power, cleantech and the potential for carbon policy in the U.S. was hitting a peak — Pickens announced to the world that he planned to kick off the world’s largest wind farm in Texas. It was part of his Pickens Plan to make the U.S. energy independent, and he even bought 500 turbines from GE to build the farm. But then the recession hit hard in late 2008, the Texas wind farm struggled to get the proper transmission lines permitted, and natural gas started on its downward spiral in price, making clean power less attractive to investors.
In the spring of 2010, Picken’s decided to move the planned wind farm up north to Minnesota. The project was originally going to see 334 turbines land in Goodhue, Minnesota, creating a 78 MW wind farm, according to local Minnesota media back then. However, in recent years the wind farm plan had clearly gotten much smaller in scale, and is now reportedly a 50-turbine wind farm, estimated to cost $180 million.
Despite that Pickens has finally sold off his stake in the project, the owner of the wind farm, now called New Era Wind Farm, says he’s still try to get it built. The project is reportedly controversial in the area because of “concerns about potential noise and unpleasant shadows from spinning blades,” as well as “threats to protected eagles and bats that might hit the blades.”
Pickens still seems bullish on natural gas, particularly natural gas for transportation. Last year he was working on a bill that would help provide incentives for natural gas for transportation. Here’s a video interview I did with Pickens back in early 2011, and he told me back then that the wind part of his Pickens Plans was “on the shelf,” because of the low price of natural gas: