Mr. Pickens has it at least half right.
Any renewable sources of energy for electrical generation that are economically viable, such as wind, should be implemented as soon as possible.That said, the relatively centralized nature of the production process will require an extensive distribution network of new electrical lines to get the power out. Add to this the fact that wind power isn't reliably available 24/7. All of this needs to be thoroughly thought through, making this part of his plan not quite as simple as it sounds. But I agree with this focus.
But Pickens may be going wrong in advocating a wholesale switch to natural gas. This part of his plan seems overly self-serving. Natural gas is still a major greenhouse gas contributor, albeit somewhat less than oil. And the extraction and distribution process is hardly benign. Converting millions of cars to run on natural gas, as well as service stations to service them, would be challenging.
Better solutions for offsetting oil for transportation needs are close at hand, particularly by continuing to focus on cellulosic ethanol (NOT corn ethanol!). Cellulosic ethanol, IF DONE RIGHT, could actually help reduce the CO2 problem, provide tens of thousands of new jobs in rural communities, and dramatically reduce the need for imported oil. While not proven to be commercially viable yet, the evidence is mounting it will be viable within 2-3 years... and much cheaper than gasoline today.
Of course, Mr. Pickens would have a hard time owning a major slice of that energy option. It's decentralized by nature.
This forum is searching for answers to these, and other questions:
* How much will it cost to convert my car to CNG, and how many people will make that investment? Looks like the figure is around $5,000 per car and higher.
* Some suggest it's best to sell my car and buy a new CNG vehicle in order to participate in the Pickens Plan. If so, how long would it take to get 20-30% of folks to do? 10 years? Longer? Sounds like other alternative transportation solutions can work in that time frame (cellulosic ethanol, electric vehicles, hydrogen, etc.)
* How do we know the cost of CNG will not rise dramatically when the supply is controlled by a relatively small number of companies?
* What's going to happen to the hundreds of natural gas facilities now using natural gas to produce electricity once the Pickens Plan diverts that natural gas to auto vehicles (this is his plan, if you've read it)? Will these plants just shut down and lose millions of dollars in hard assets?
* What about questions of reliability of these mega wind turbines, compared to smaller ones? Can we count on this over the long term? Some experts say be careful.. the technology has not been proven over time.
* What issues do we face in putting in tens of thousands of miles of new electrical distribution lines?
* And what about this issue (according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy):
"Emissions from the burning of natural gas represent over 20% of the annual US carbon dioxide emissions. Annually, the burning of natural gas in the US produces almost 1,200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, more than the total carbon dioxide emissions from all sources of all but three other countries in the world: China, Russia, and Japan."
All of this said, I think the Pickens Plan may be a good route forward. But questions remain. Let's demand answers to these questions before committing to the plan.