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Billionaire inks order with GE Energy for 1000 MW in Texas

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Legendary energy executive and billionaire T Boone Pickens is making good on his promises to make a big mark in the American wind power sector. His many public pronouncements over the past year and a half of building the world's biggest wind project in Texas drew as much scepticism as praise from some wind industry insiders. They said the plan was nothing more than "bragawatts" with no clear path to success and that an upstart company with no industry experience could not expect to "jump the line" in front of established wind developers to secure turbines for such a major project in a constrained market. Last month Pickens proved the sceptics wrong. Pickens inked an order with GE Energy for 667 wind turbines totalling 1000 MW through his new wind development company, Mesa Power LLP. GE is to deliver the 1.5 MW units in 2010 and 2011 for the first phase of Mesa Power's four-phase Pampa Wind Project in the Texas Panhandle. The developer has been busy buying up land leases for turbines in Carson, Gray, Hemphill, Roberts and Wheeler counties. Pickens expects the first 1000 MW phase will cost about $2 billion, and that electricity will be on-line by early 2011. At full build out, the project would be 4000 MW in total nameplate capacity by 2014. It is reliant in part on new transmission expansions under the Texas Competitive Renewable Energy Zone plan (Windpower Monthly, September 2007). Eighty-year-old Pickens, who once operated one of the largest independent oil and gas production companies in the US, says wind power has clear benefits in an era of scarce and costly energy. "You find an oilfield, it peaks and starts declining, and you've got to find another one to replace it. It can drive you crazy. With wind, there's no decline curve."

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