HOUSTON — George Alcorn is a third-generation Texas oilman. His grandfather
drilled for oil in the 1930s, then his father and his uncles followed suit.
When Alcorn, 51, looks into the future
of his business, though, he doesn't see black oil gushing from a well — he sees steam. Alcorn recently revamped
his business strategy from traditional oil exploration to using abandoned wells and drilling technology to generate geothermal
energy as a way to power cities.
The rough-and-tumble image of the Texas oilman may be turning "green." An
increasing number of Texas oilmen and companies are following Alcorn's lead and swapping oil and gas production for cleaner,
"We're trying to catch the new wave, not get swamped by it," Alcorn says.
"You're going to see more oil companies doing this. There's a great opportunity to make some money here."
With mounting national interest in renewable energy, oil companies are starting to think in renewable terms. President
Obama's $800 billion economic stimulus, which contains incentives for renewable projects, has helped push the swing.
most visible example of the shift has been T. Boone Pickens, the iconic Texas oil tycoon who has been promoting his plan to
turn the country toward alternatives such as natural gas, wind and solar energies.
But there are others, including:
•Hunt Oil, a well-known name in Texas oil production, which has a subsidiary researching opportunities in renewable
•Shell Oil, which has teamed with Dallas-based Luminant to build a giant, 3,000-megawatt wind farm in
the Texas panhandle.
•Herman Schellstede, a venerable offshore oil explorer and "wildcatter" from Louisiana
who is developing a wind farm off Texas' eastern coast.
Texas leads the charge