Correction appended: this article originally gave the incorrect locations of Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran’s “Power to the People” lecture. The location of T. Boone Pickens’s speech was also changed after the publication of this article.
T. Boone Pickens, the oilman-turned alternative energy supporter now famous for airing a series of commercials pushing his “Pickens Plan,” is scheduled to be the guest of honor during the University’s Homecoming week later this month. The Oklahoma-born billionaire will speak at the Power Center on Oct. 1 for the “green”-themed Homecoming celebration.
Pickens’ planned visit was announced by Michigan Student Assembly representative Gibran Baydoun during Thursday’s University Board of Regents meeting.
MSA officials and spokespeople for Pickens declined to comment Thursday.
Pickens, chairman of BP Capital Management, which controls two hedge funds that invest primarily in oil and natural gas, is the 117th richest American with a net worth of $3 billion, according to Forbes Magazine. As the head of Mesa Petroleum in the 1980s, he was well known for his audacious buyout pursuits of oil and gas companies, and even considered a presidential run in 1988.
Though formerly a Republican, Pickens has renounced his Republican affiliation to focus on alternative energy, and in doing so has become a popular figure among the environmentally conscious.
In July, he announced the “Pickens Plan”, a large-scale energy policy proposal aimed at promoting alternatives to oil, including wind and solar energy and natural gas. Pickens has said he wants to reduce America’s dependence on crude oil imports—specifically, down to 20 percent of current consumption within a decade.
Now, Mesa Power is constructing a wind farm in Texas with up to 2,700 turbines capable of producing four gigawatts of electricity. The wind farm, slated to be completed in 2011, would be the largest in the world, generating five times as much electricity as the current leader.
Critics of his plan say Pickens is only interested in such endeavors for his own financial gain, a claim he denied last month at the Democratic National Convention.
“I’m not doing this for the money,” Pickens said. “I’ve met with (Republican presidential nominee John) McCain and (Democratic nominee Barack) Obama. I’m totally nonpartisan. It has nothing to do with politics. I’m for America, this is an American plan.”
The choice to tap Pickens fits with the Homecoming theme: “Go Blue, Live Green.” Other Homecoming events include a lecture by Dr. Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran, author of “Power to the People,” on Sunday the 28th in the Rackham Auditorium and Environmental Philanthropy Day on Thursday, Oct. 2 on the Diag.