Oil Tycoon Pickens Presents Energy Plan to Columbus

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Oil and natural gas veteran T. Boone Pickens introduced his energy plan at a town hall style meeting in Columbus yesterday afternoon. Pickens, who says America does not have an energy plan, wants to tap the nation’s renewable energy sources. WOSU reports American Electric and Power recently signed on as a corporate sponsor for Pickens’ plan.

Hundreds of people showed up to hear 80-year-old T. Boone Pickens’ pitch his energy proposal. He calls for the use of natural gas in cars, more wind power and a new national power grid. Pickens is optimistic much of this can be done within the next decade.

“When you look at it we must be fools to sit here with an abundant resource: natural gas; abundant, cheaper, cleaner and ours, and continue to import foreign oil. You know, it’s really, you gotta think we’re not very smart,” Pickens said. The U.S. imports almost 70 percent of its oil. Pickens estimates natural gas will cost 75 percent less than gasoline. Since natural gas is used to heat millions of homes across the country would using it to fuel our cars drive up demand and cost?

American Electric Power CEO Michael Morris said he doubts it.

“The U.S. natural gas base is pretty substantial and it may well soften the blow that you suggest might come to the home heating side of the natural gas equation,” Morris said.

Pickens also wants to see more than one-fifth of electricity generated from wind. He calls for huge wind turbines across some of the nation’s windiest areas. One of those mentioned – Lake Erie.

Dennis Conard from Columbus asked AEP and Pickens if they’ve considered resources other than wind. AEP’s Morris said, yes, they have. But that answer was not enough to satisfy Conard’s curiosity. “My question is, really, is Lake Erie in the near future for the development of windmills there? I would tell you that that has some social issues assigned to it that folks who live along Lake Erie probably aren’t going to be too excited about that. So I wouldn’t worry about that tomorrow. But it is a developable resource; it’s one of the rich resources that we have here in Ohio,” Morris answered.

Another Pickens’ plan critic is Tom Stacy who heads up a non-profit group called The Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions. While Stacy likes most of the plan he questions the use of wind energy.

“The reality is wind energy is a variable resource, it relies on the weather even over a large region to generate it to electricity and some other source of electricity has to make up for the times that it’s not windy. The very best source of energy to do that job is natural gas,” he said.

Pickens said there’s no time to waste on the country’s energy crisis, and he wants to see Congressional action on his plan to boost natural gas and wind this year.

“I’m the only person with a plan. There’s no other plan that’s shown up but mine,” Pickens said.

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