Wind investments blow Pickens off the Forbes 400 list

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Breanna Deutsch Contributor
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Businessman T. Boone Pickens was dropped from the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans after losing much of his fortune in the wind farming industry.

According to Forbes, Pickens’ fortune dropped below the $ 1 billion mark for the first time since 2005. His net worth once amounted to an estimated $2 billion, but now it sits at around $950 million.

He told the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he had “lost [his] ass in the [wind] business.” He added, “the jobs are in oil and gas.”

In 2008, Pickens debuted his “Pickens Plan,” which aimed to increase the nation’s use of wind energy and decrease America’s dependence on OPEC oil. With the help of investors he spent 80 million dollars on TV ads to promote his plan and $2 billion on General Electric wind turbines. Pickens hoped that once the wind farm was constructed, it would be the largest in the world.

The plan collapsed after natural gas prices fell and selling wind power was no longer economically feasible. He lost $150 million of his personal fortune on the failed wind plan.

After his failure in the wind market, Pickens revamped his Pickens Plan to focus on the use of natural gas as well as any other American-based energy source.

He has made moves to convert all trucks from using gasoline to natural gas. As part of this effort, he has encouraged Obama to use subsidies in order to incentivize the trucking industry to make the switch.

Pickens says that this new endeavor is mainly an effort to “end America’s addiction to foreign oil,” though critics also speculate that although the former billionaire is now 84, profits are driving his interest in energy policy.

The American energy man wants the world to know that he will be able to survive living off of his mere $950 million. When ESPN’s Darren Rovell confronted Pickens over Twitter about his new status as a millionaire, Pickens tweeted, “Don’t worry. At $950 million, I’m doing fine. Funny, my $1 billion charitable giving exceeds my net worth.”

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