One Mans West, New Edition

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One Man's Quest to Transform American Energy

On top of the borehole, the farmer would install a windmill, an Aermotor or a Dempster, to pump up water for cattle or crops.

New farming practices and countywide soil conservation districts ended the era of stripping away prairie grasses. Human activity had destroyed the ecosystem, but in time humans restored a semblance of balance.

Big Sean - One Man Can Change The World ft. Kanye West, John Legend , Cover ( Kizomba Remix ) - 2016

The weather had once brought misery to the panhandle. Now Beaman wanted the wind to bring investment and steady checks. He split his time between a home in Amarillo, Texas, a two-hour drive to the south, and a second house in Guymon. One day in , driving north from Amarillo, he noticed large cranes assembling gently tapered steel tubes. On the return trip, three long aerodynamic blades had been attached to a large box on the top of each tube. It was the first time he had seen a modern wind turbine.

He thought the machines looked solid and impressive. Here on the southern edge of the Great Plains, grain elevators seemed as tall as skyscrapers. But these wind turbines were twenty and thirty stories tall; they dwarfed the grain elevators. They were nothing like those twenty-foot windmills dotting the region that were rusting in place. The new ones were elegant machines—two rows of eight turbines each eventually straddling the rural road.

Sections are acres of land, one mile wide and one mile long. He knew most of the people who lived in the panhandle and had known them for decades. He urged them to sign energy leases. They would pool their land and use their size to get the best bargain.

Between and , no state claimed the region. It was an empty spot on the map and remains sparsely populated. In the s, a giant pork conglomerate moved in and built a slaughterhouse on the outskirts of Guymon. About twenty thousand pigs arrive in trucks every day from barns scattered across the panhandle and neighboring states.

By one estimate, there are sixty-two hogs for every person in the counties that make up the panhandle. After attending college in Colorado, Beaman ended up working for Exxon overseas in the s and s. Boone Pickens. One of the elementary rules of oil exploration is that when you make a discovery, lease up as much surrounding land as possible. Beaman took the same approach to wind. Beaman promised his neighbors payments down the road when deals were made.

Beaman, who often wore a cream-colored cowboy hat and oversized belt buckle won in a cutting horse riding competition, called the company CimTexCo, for Cimarron and Texas Counties. Beaman soon learned that there was a reason those first wind turbines he had seen on his drive from Amarillo were located where they were. They were close to power lines. To make CimTexCo viable, he needed a power line.

He put in a proposal with the local grid operator to extend a transmission line west into the panhandle. The Southwest Power Pool assigned it to its priority project list.

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It was number 13, so far down the list he doubted he would be alive to see it completed. His frustration was building when a mutual acquaintance introduced him to Michael Skelly, and he learned about the interstate extension cord idea. They were working on complementary plans. Beaman increased his outreach and soon had , acres committed to CimTexCo. This would eventually grow to more than , acres—about square miles.

It was enough land for strings of turbines to extend for sixty miles, east to west. It was enough to build the largest renewable energy project on the continent. He marveled at the size of the project, and so did an out-of-town lawyer. Beaman needed the line. If Skelly could build a transmission line from Oklahoma to Memphis, Tennessee, the panhandle would sprout two thousand wind turbines and tens of thousands of solar panels.

The electricity generated would flow into a substation near Guymon and then on to a high-voltage direct current express line headed east. It would drop off some power in Arkansas, and take the rest over the Mississippi River into Memphis. From there, the flow of electrons that make up an electrical current would be on a grid operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

In the s, the federal agency planned to build more than a dozen nuclear power plants in the valley. The TVA built the wires but then scrapped plans for the nukes.

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If Skelly could get the power across the Mississippi into Memphis, he could move the power north, east, and south on this oversized network. Atlanta, Charlotte, even Washington, D.


It was such a bold idea that some people in the Oklahoma panhandle had trouble believing it. He had returned to the area in to build wind farms because of his recollection of working as a paperboy for the afternoon newspaper and getting dragged across Main Street in Guymon when a gust of wind turned his canvas delivery bag into a sail. A private line all the way to Memphis? But he was curious. They met at a conference in Oklahoma City in and chatted for an hour.

Skelly was about twenty years younger and a head taller than Lobit. Skelly spoke passionately about his idea. Lobit felt himself getting drawn in. Lobit still believed an Oklahoma-to-Tennessee power line was insane, but if anyone could pull it off, Lobit was prepared to bet on this goofy but earnest guy. Skelly wanted to permit and build a mile electricity expressway through the middle of the country, bypassing a snarl of local and often congested power lines. His proposed power line had the capacity to carry 4, megawatts of wind and solar power.

Adding them all up, the panhandle wind and solar farms would be one of the largest power-generating projects in the United States. It would trail only the gigantic Grand Coulee Dam, which sends the gravity-propelled Columbia River through twenty-five generators and produces up to 6, megawatts, and the Palo Verde nuclear power plant west of Phoenix, which has a peak output of 4, megawatts. As of early , it had installed 3, megawatts. Capacity can be misleading. A typical car speedometer might say it is capable of going miles per hour, but most cars never go near that maximum speed.

Right behind them would be the proposed cluster of wind and solar farms in the Oklahoma panhandle, churning out electricity that travels on the new grid to faraway cities.

One Man's West, New Edition

But the reward at the end of the line was significant: it was a huge step forward in a transition to a cleaner energy future. It would also be a big payday. Changing the electricity system would be enormously expensive. But if Skelly could set the precedent with a moneymaking Oklahoma-to-Tennessee line, it would be worth the headache. The counties were big and windy and sunny, and there were developers champing at the bit. This was how the energy transition would happen, he figured.

Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden: | Books

One step at a time and one transmission line at a time. Why bother, he would ask with a shrug. He much preferred to use his time developing energy projects. It was something that needed to be financed, planned, and built. The longer it took to rewire the country, the more heat-trapping gases would be released into the atmosphere.

That meant more climatic changes that could make the Oklahoma Dust Bowl pale in comparison. The world was getting more dangerous. Storms were stronger and droughts more persistent. All this was happening and the global mean temperature had only risen by less than one degree Celsius. What would happen if temperatures rose by two degrees? Add to Cart. Also by Blaine Harden. See all books by Blaine Harden. Product Details. Inspired by Your Browsing History. As a human story it is gut wrenching; if what he was made to endure, especially that he was forced to view his own family merely as competitors for food, was written in a movie script, you would think the writer was overreaching.

But perhaps most important is the light the book shines on an under-discussed issue, an issue on which the West may one day be called into account for its inactivity. If you want a singular perspective on what goes on inside the rogue regime, then you must read [this] story. He gradually, haltingly—and, so far, with mixed success—sets out to remake himself as a moral, feeling human being. Harden masterfully allows us to know Shin, not as a giant but as a man, struggling to understand what was done to him and what he was forced to do to survive.

By doing so, Escape from Camp 14 stands as a searing indictment of a depraved regime and a tribute to all those who cling to their humanity in the face of evil. Blaine Harden, a veteran foreign correspondent from The Washington Post , tells this story masterfully. The integrity of this book, shines through on every page. These, he makes clear, are success stories compared to North Korea. A book that all adults should read. Related Articles. Looking for More Great Reads? Download Hi Res.

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