Library from Minnesota
"The St. Cloud VA is a hospital, and our focus is on our patients and we like to think that we treat our veterans very well here," said Barry Venable, a public affairs officer for the VA in St. Cloud. "We're embarrassed that this turbine does not operate as advertised."
What was supposed to provide up to 15 percent of the power to the St. Cloud VA Health Care System has turned into a black eye in the sky. ...Nearly $2.3 million went blowing in the wind, and there seems to be no end in sight to needed repairs. It’s also unclear whether the VA will be compensated for lost savings or if the turbine will ever work properly.
Almost three years after it was built, a wind turbine at the St. Cloud VA Health Care System has become a towering boondoggle. The VA system paid about 99 percent of the $2.3 million cost for the turbine. All that has bought is a turbine that supplied a tiny fraction of the power it was expected to generate. Since August 2012, the turbine has supplied no power at all. ...“You fix one thing and something else pops up. It’s extraordinarily unreliable.”
The PUC approved the initial site permit for a 301 megawatt project in 2010, but the amended request reduces the nameplate capacity to 200 megawatts. Additionally, the PUC's recent decision allows Pleasant Valley to switch from a combination of 1.5 MW and 2.3 MW General Electric turbines to a uniform layout of 2.0 MW Vestas, which are 328 feet tall with a rotor diameter of 328 feet. The GE turbines had the same rotor diameter, but the towers stood 262 feet tall.
The backers of a southeastern Minnesota wind farm touted as a model for other communities face a $3.3-million lawsuit in U.S. District Court filed by the South Korean company that manufactured and financed the turbines for the Winona County Wind project.
At issue is a $4.8 million wind project built near Altura in Winona County. JEDI developed the project in 2010 using equipment purchased from Unison, which filed a 16-count lawsuit last month alleging fraud, breach of contract, tortious interference and unjust unrichment.
The EcoHarmony wind project received its permits in February 2010 ...the 280-megawatt project would have been the largest wind development in state history. However, the project layout was overhauled in early 2013, shrinking to 116 megawatts. The company's plans changed again this fall when Gamesa notified local project participants that the project was dead.
A South Korean wind turbine manufacturer recently filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking $3.3 million plus damages from those behind a$4.8 million wind project in Altura. Unison Co. is alleging 16 counts of fraud, breach of contract, tortious interference and unjust unrichment against 10 companies or people involved in the project.
The suit accuses Juhl Energy Development, Juhl Energy Inc., and Juhl employees Daniel Juhl, John Mitola, and John Brand, along with attorney Bartly Loethen and his wife, Audrey Loethen, and Jeff Bendel, of failing to abide by the terms of the financial agreement that required permission from Unison before financial or ownership transactions took place. Additionally, the suit alleges that the company misrepresented the ownership of the turbine project and failed to make any payments on the turbines.
"Willmar’s experience is not unusual. There are several stories very similar to this where municipal utilities were sold on the benefits of owning and operating their own wind turbines only to learn after the fact that keeping the turbines running can be a nightmare, even with a warranty plan in place.”
In northern Minnesota, an electric utility is proposing a 500 kV, cross-border transmission line that would let it tap Canadian hydropower under a similar arrangement. Minnesota Power says the Great Northern Transmission Line would allow it to balance intermittent power from its North Dakota wind farms with dispatchable power from Manitoba hydro facilities.
The county board held a meeting Tuesday to gauge the public’s concerns with the environmental effects of the proposed transmission line and substation for the wind farm, which was approved by the Public Utilities Commission in mid-October.
"...I regret to have to inform you that National Wind/Trishe Wind Energy has made the difficult decision to terminate the High Country Energy project," wrote National Wind and Trishe Wind Energy President Vivek Mittal. "Despite our best efforts, we have not been able to sign on enough contiguous acres necessary for the planned 150 (megawatt) project or to win the broad community support essential to bringing a wind project to successful commercial operation."
Following a minutes-long public hearing before a large crowd on Oct. 10 in the state capitol the commissioners unanimously voted to revoke New Era's site permit and certificate of need. New Era has faced unprecedented public criticism since the project was first proposed in 2008, ultimately spending more than $15 million in a fruitless attempt to gain its state and local permits to build the wind project between Goodhue and Zumbrota.
Both turbines have the same problem with the high-voltage switch at the base of each tower. ...In mid-September, the utility sent a letter to DeWind requesting $254,354 in warranty payments for three years of lost electrical production due to breakdowns and repairs.
Dan Juhl, a lifelong Minnesotan and founder of Juhl Energy, recalls the project being ill-conceived from the beginning. Despite a Minnesota Department of Commerce report hailing Goodhue County as a prime location for wind farm development without significant transmission build-out, he says the project's "novice" developers gave little thought to how a utility-scale wind farm would affect the fairly populated area.
Developers have formally abandoned their plans to build a $180 million wind farm in southeastern Minnesota that drew strong citizen opposition because of the threat it posed to eagles and bats, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday. New Era Wind Farm LLC told the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in a letter dated Sept. 6 that it "no longer intends to develop a wind energy project in Goodhue County" and asked the commission to close all pending matters related to the project. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had estimated that New Era's wind turbines could kill as many as eight to 15 bald eagles per year in a worst-case scenario. The company's estimate was one eagle annually. Duration: 1 minute 50 seconds
McNamara said she thinks she and her fellow opponents helped put important issues in the public eye. Now that the Goodhue County project has been defeated, she hopes other wind projects in the state see similar opposition. "Many more of the projects in Minnesota should be under more scrutiny," McNamara said. "There are other [wind] projects in Minnesota that need more scrutiny."
Opposition to the wind farm from citizens groups centered largely on impacts to wildlife, including eagle and bat populations. The PUC rejected New Era's plan to protect the animals, causing a delay in construction.
New Era Wind Farm LLC told the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in a letter dated Sept. 6 that it "no longer intends to develop a wind energy project in Goodhue County" and asked the commission to close all pending matters related to the project.