- T. Boone Pickens, the oil and gas billionaire now making a splash in wind energy, has released the “Pickens Plan” for reforming the U.S. energy landscape. In brief, use a lot more wind power to displace natural gas used in electric power generation, and use the natural gas to displace gasoline in transportation uses.
Geoff Styles provides an assessment and commentary on the plan, concluding it is “an idea that merits further analysis and consideration.” The USA Today also reports on the Pickens Plan. Pickens has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal: My Plan to Escape the Grip of Foreign Oil.
- The Utility Wind Integration Group has said, “Hydropower has long been viewed as a perfect fit for wind generation,” because the ready controllability of hydro overcomes some of the most obvious drawbacks of wind generation. But “perfect fit” is not the same as saying “no brainer.” It still takes effort to get the two energy sources to work together, and you need functioning contingency plans for rare events.
Last week operators at the Bonneville Power Administration had to cut hydro generation drastically in response to an unexpected surge in power, forcing dam operators to spill more water than expected and potentially threatening migrating salmon.
- In the Dallas Morning News, Elizabeth Souder reports on the current status of wind power in Texas: “Lawyers representing nearly everyone in the power industry have been airing these concerns to the PUC [of Texas] during the past couple of years as commissioners consider wind transmission.” The story suggests that the Texas approach may be the model for integrating wind power elsewhere in the country, perhaps justifying the heavy investment in sorting out the issues in Texas first.
Apparently part of the problem was that the wind power operators didn’t answer calls from the BPA, or didn’t understand instructions to cut back on output. It was the first time the BPA has called wind power operators with such requests.