Almost four years ago, I blogged, Boone's Plan is More Than Wind. Wikipedia reminds us the plan was to shift electrical generation to wind-powered turbines, saving domestic natural gas for transportation.
The Man with the Plan reminds us that Boone grew up in a small eastern Oklahoma town, graduating as a geologist from Oklahoma State and first working for Phillips Petroleum. In less than four years, he was off working for himself and founded Mesa Petroleum in 1956. Since that time, he has been at the forefront of U.S. petroleum activity.
But back to his plan. He believed by shifting to domestic natural gas the U.S. could reduce its dependency for foreign oil. So far, we haven't shifted to natural gas based transportation, there are environmental issues with the production of synthetic petroleum from natural gas.
Windpower hasn't been the success envisioned either. Wind industry's future in question as tax credit nears end tells that wind power costs an average of 8.5 cents per kilowatt hour. That is probably 1/3 or 1/4 of the cost of nuclear-generated electricity. But the problem with wind power is two-fold. First, it doesn't scale easily and it is not an on-demand source. The wind blows when it blows. The second is that people don't generally like to live where the wind blows all the time. Consequently there is an absence of power transmission lines at the best wind farm sites.
But Boone Pickens was right about natural gas. The nation is afloat with natural gas. U.S. energy independence is no longer just a pipe dream is a bit stretched, but the nation is much better than it was five years ago, and certainly at the time of the 1973 oil embargo. Today, the U.S. is the world's fastest growing oil and natural gas producer. Predictions are that by 2030, the U.S. will obtain 94 percent of its energy from domestic production.
To Boone's chagrin, natural gas prices have dropped by 80 percent since 2008. In addition, the U.S. has passed Russia in refined petroleum exports.
It is interesting how he got it right, but wrong. But also remember when we thought that solving the nation's oil dependency problem would solve our economics problem? How did we get it wrong?