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Argument: Pickens Plan requires infeasible electric grid upgrades

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Kate Galbraith. "Pickens Plan Stirs Debate, and Qualms". New York Times. 5 Aug. 2008 - For starters, a huge investment in transmission lines would be necessary to carry the power from remote, windy areas to large cities.

Mr. Pickens is personally encountering transmission challenges as he invests in the world’s largest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle, a project costing up to $12 billion. Some landowners are upset about potential transmission lines crossing their property.

In his national plan, Mr. Pickens has pegged the cost of the wind turbines at roughly $1 trillion, not counting additional power lines. But that is wildly optimistic, contends Jamie Webster of PFC Energy, a consulting firm. To displace all generation from natural gas would require turbines costing as much as $14 trillion, he says.

Mr. Pickens “wants to paint the rosiest picture,” Mr. Webster said.


Kate Galbraith. "Pickens Plan Stirs Debate, and Qualms". New York Times. 5 Aug. 2008 - "Despite the high costs, Pickens touts the economic growth the expanded wind farm industry could provide...Even after the farms are built, though, a revamped—and extremely expensive—power grid would be needed...The prime locations for wind farms are in remote regions with limited or no electric infrastructure, so new construction would be needed to provide ways to move electricity from the farms to population centers...Pickens estimates the transmission infrastructure could cost another $200 billion—an effort he likened to the government-funded construction of the U.S. interstate highway system, which kicked off under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Between 1958 and 1991 the interstate project cost an estimated $128 billion, with the federal government paying about 90 percent of the cost, according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration...Upgrading the grid is likely to be a hurdle for any major renewable-energy project, according to David Pumphrey, deputy director of the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C..."If you want to do renewables, which seems to be a widely accepted strategy, you've got to build out and strengthen the grid. And it's going to cost quite a bit of money to do that."

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