Billionaire businessman T. Boone Pickens, who made much of his fortune in oil, plans to visit Utah today to tout his strategies for alternative energy development.
Pickens, founder of the hedge fund BP Capital Management, is conducting a town hall meeting at 5 p.m. at the Salt Palace Convention Center to promote his Pickens Plan, which encourages the use of alternatives to oil, including natural gas, wind and solar power. The event is the ninth town-hall meeting in a series being held across the country since the Pickens Plan was launched in July.
Pickens told the Deseret News on Wednesday that he is visiting Salt Lake to discuss the nation's growing and dangerous reliance upon on foreign oil. His plan which has received support from environmental groups, including the Sierra Club urges the United States to utilize its wind corridor that stretches through the middle of the nation, from Texas through the Great Plains to the Canadian border.
The plan calls for investing in power generation from domestic renewable resources and using the country's abundant supplies of natural gas as a transportation fuel, replacing more than one-third of the imported oil and saving more than $230 billion a year.
"You have to have natural gas because you don't have anything else that will reduce dependence on foreign oil," he said. "It's the only resource in America that can reduce the import problem."
The popularity of the Pickens Plan has grown to include dozens of chapters across the country, including in Utah.
Pickens said he is most interested in eliminating the $700 billion that is going out of the United States to purchase oil. He said that his plan is focused on best utilizing the resources in America that can replace the energy supplied by foreign petroleum.
"When you look at the world today, we only have 3 percent of the oil reserves, but we are using 25 percent of the oil produced every day," he said. "I'm for geothermal, solar, nuclear you name it, I'm for it."His companies also would benefit from the switch. Pickens has extensive financial investments in natural gas and wind power. Last year, he announced he plans to build the world's largest wind farm, in Texas, and this year, his Mesa Power LP ordered the turbines for the plant from General Electric. His BP Capital is invested in a variety of natural-gas companies. And he founded Clean Energy Fuels Corp., North America's largest provider of natural gas for vehicles.