The Pickens Plan is a trojan horse, and yesterday, warriors hidden inside came pouring out. Pickens revealed his plan for the government to grant him the power of eminent domain, government subsidies for power transmission lines, and power to control those lines (as well as water pipelines) from his land in the Texas Panhandle to Dallas/Fort Worth. The Pickens Plan is being sold as a common sense effort to shift toward wind and solar power, but it includes a bold attempt to gain control over the market for alternative energy sources.
Alternative sources of energy in the United States can have two very different futures. It can be a future in which people, through competitive markets are able to obtain locally generated, cheap, clean energy and in which people are independent from monopolies and oligopolies which now dominate energy markets. One the other hand, it can be a future in which people, as now, have no choice except to purchase power from government created monoplies. These monopolies would continue to be protected from competition from an independent and free market for energy production.
Yesterday, Pickens revealed that he envisions the latter. At least part of his vision for the future is that the people of Dallas and Fort Worth will be dependent upon him for their power and water which he would generate from hundreds of thousands of acres of land he owns in the Texas Panhandle. Testifying before a congressional committee, he proposed that the U.S. government grant him subsidies and the power of eminent domain (the power to take private property by force) to build the transmission lines. Like an explorer asking for ships and soldiers to conquer a new world in the name of a King, Pickens is asking for the power of the United States to conquer the alternative energy markets.
The wealth of the United States was built by independent entreprenuers competing in free markets. In the past 200 years these free markets, along with democratic institutions, have prevailed throughout the world. As wealth was built and freedom spread, the world saw the failure of fascism, communism, socialism and every other type of centralized control of free people. The Pickens Plan is an attempt to impose his own centralized control on a new and free market for alternative energy sources. History has repeatedly rejected his approach, and we should too.