Path Home Shows 2009 Show Archive February 2009 Show 0905 Pickens on Alternative Fuels

Pickens on Alternative Fuels

It's evident Boone Pickens believes natural gas is the bridge fuel to our country's energy future. We visit with T. Boone Pickens to find out what other alternative fuels can be used.
Pickens on Alternative Fuels

T. Boone Pickens

For more information visit this link:

The Pickens Plan

Show Dates

Show 0905: Pickens on Alternative Fuels

Air date: February 1, 2009



Rob:  Well, it’s evident Pickens believes natural gas is the bridge fuel to our country’s energy future; but what about other alternative fuels that are literally homegrown?  Well as usual, Pickens pulls no punches, and his answers are as straight forward as ever.  I've heard you describe ethanol biofuels as kind of America's ugly baby.  Explain that.

Pickens:  It is, because it's, you use so much energy to create it.  And to use corn for ethanol, does it work?  Of course it works.  We're now producing 500,000 to 600,00 barrels of corn ethanol a year in the United States.  What we need to do is go to cellulosic ethanol as quickly as we can.  In the meantime, it does work.  I'd lot rather be doing 600,000 barrels a day of corn ethanol than I would 600,000 barrels a day of African crude oil.

Rob:  Talk to me a little bit about coal.  It seems to be getting, it's always been controversial, but I'm even seeing advertisements criticizing what's been called clean coal technology.  Is that a myth?

Pickens:  Well, you've got to clean it up.  I mean, and you now have an administration that is, I would say is, much greener than the administration going out.  So, you know, get serious, clean it up.  But, half of our power generation comes from coal.  And you know, I've had people that say to me, well if we have so much natural gas, why don't we use that and replace the coal?  Well, wait a minute, I mean, you've got huge investments in coal fired plants.  And that, you don't want to be shutting down something like that.  You need to clean it up.

Rob:  Is the same wind that blew my parents' generation out of Oklahoma, is that the same wind that maybe could bring people back into the state, from an economic development standpoint?

Pickens:  Okay, my model for this, Sweetwater, Texas.  Sweetwater, Texas, can be located in western Oklahoma, very easily.  Sweetwater, Texas, was a town of 12,000, had a small oilfield, not unlike western Oklahoma, had a small oilfield, and population was doing well, 12,000.  Oilfield depletes, the population goes down, to below 10,000.  But now, where is Sweetwater, Texas?  It's over 12,000, and 25 percent of the jobs are wind related, and the wind does not deplete.

Rob:  Talk to me about transmission lines.  How key are they into developing The Pickens Plan?

Pickens:  Okay.  Go back to Sweetwater again.  And you say, well that's out of position; it's not in Texas.  It's pretty well located for the Ercot System in Texas.  But, if you're going to transport that to the west coast, it's out of position, or the east coast.  So, what happens?  You're going to have to have, I think, a national grid.  And I'm told by the experts that if you have a national grid, we go back and build the infrastructure, put it together right, that it'll be 20 percent more efficient.  That makes sense to me.  At the same time, I'm not an expert on the power.  But, if you did the Sweetwater, you went north to Pampa, Texas, you went north to western Oklahoma, on up to Nebraska, and on up to South Dakota and North Dakota, then that would be the power generation that would be built, and you would have to have transmission out of there to the east and west coast.  How does that, how do you accomplish that, and do it quick, is what you need to do?  Go with the Eisenhower interstate highway; emergency must be done now.

Rob:  Do governmental subsidies, do they play a part of this?

Pickens:  You need the subsidy, for the production tax credit, to get the wind and the solar going, is what you need to do.  And the production tax credit has been renewed on an annual basis.  You need to do it on a 10-year basis.  And that will then bring the manufacturing into that wind corridor from Sweetwater, Texas, to Canada.  What does that do for us?  It brings jobs.  In the model we have, that if you do 200,000 megawatts of power, and we just lift the Department of Energy study of '07, and they say that can be accomplished.  And so, you lift that, and say we're going to do 200,000 megawatts.  See, at the present time, we have built out in America 987,000 megawatts.  And we need to have a 20 percent increase over that in the next 10 years.  So let's do it with wind.  At the same time, you're over here about to hatch the solar.  The solar corridor will be from west Texas to California.  Okay, that's going to be done.  It has to be done.  It's a resource that's renewable.  It's clean.  And it's ours.  And it can be done.  And all of this can be done.  And you asked about taxes.  Put production tax credit on for 10 years.  To do 200,000 megawatts, it'll cost you 15-billion a year.  You know, that's a lot of money.  So wait a minute.  How much do we have flowing out for the purchase of foreign oil?  At 100 dollars a barrel, we've got 700-billion flowing out of the country.  So, at 50 dollars a barrel, it's half that.  And I can promise you that oil price will go up.  It will go up.  UNLESS, the people with oil decide we're going to solve the problem, and they're going to try to beat us by lowering the price.  We, then, have to be smart; use their oil, and move over to our resources as quickly as we can.

Rob:  Do you think if we sit down a year from now, that our country will have an energy plan?

Pickens:  A year from now?

Rob:  A year from now.

Pickens:  We have to have.  It absolutely has to happen.  We cannot go, another 10 years, in the same direction we did for 40 years.