Oops: $2.3 Million Wind Turbine For VA Sits Idle

At one time I was a big supporter of wind power. I thought it was absurd that Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and others were blocking the Cape Wind Project. Then the reality of these projects started coming out. Expensive, low return on investment, low return on power, they only work during certain times, and, hey, many just do not work

(Watchdog.org) A $2.3 million federal stimulus project at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Cloud is giving green energy initiatives a bad name.

A 600-kilowatt wind turbine — some 245 foot tall — stands on the wintry VA grounds, frozen in time and temperature, essentially inoperable for the past 1 1/2 years. No one is working to fix it, though many attempts were made to repair the turbine, once billed as a model green energy project. (snip)

Unlike some wind farms in Minnesota, temperature extremes do not appear to be a factor in the turbine’s problems. Name just about anything else, however, and it’s gone wrong at some point since the completion of construction in April 2011, officials say.

The VA’s lengthy fix-it list includes the hydraulic system, electrical system, the main gear box and number other parts over the past three years. A Massachusetts-based contractor installed and has overseen maintenance on the turbine, which was made in India.

Constructed in 2011, it stopped working in 2012, and hasn’t worked since.

Studies done before construction suggested St. Cloud’s winds could produce up to 16 percent of the VA hospital’s electrical needs, potentially saving about $100,000 on the government’s annual utility bill. The facility consumes 1.3 million kilowatt hours of power, at a cost of $1.1 million per year.

Yet, it would take 23 years to recoup the cost, excluding all the maintenance costs. Which would leave 7 years for operation, since he average lifespan of a wind turbine is 30 years. Then it’s just a rusting hulk on a massive concrete (concrete is Bad for “climate change”, BTW) platform. Looks like they skipped all those years and it’s a rusting hulk now.

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6 Responses to “Oops: $2.3 Million Wind Turbine For VA Sits Idle”

  1. john says:

    Teach generally wind turbines need a ebuild at 20-25 years the rebuild extends service life to 40years. This is comprable to the service life of a coal plant Teach countries like Germany and Switzerland are investing heavily in wind power as is China. The weight of opinion seems to again be against you.
    Please tell us what the reliability rate IS for wind power instead of meerly pointing out the failure of one turbine made in India.
    Teach you seem to be still mourning the continual decrease in market share that coal produces.

  2. The reliability rating for wind is low, as is the power quotient. I’ll add a graphic later showing just how poor wind is.

    And when it comes to coal, don’t be a dick. You’ve read my stuff long enough to have read that I am not a fan of coal. Nor do I buy into clean coal. And that I support alternatives. But, the way they are been done is a mess.

  3. gitarcarver says:


    Teach generally wind turbines need a ebuild at 20-25 years the rebuild extends service life to 40years.

    Then this particular turbine has not met 10% of even your stated life span.

    Tell us john, how much money is this particular turbine saving the hospital? How much is it generating in power.

    This is comprable to the service life of a coal plant</blockquote

    I have yet to see a coal fired power plant last only 4 years. Care to cite one?

    If you are saying that the coal plant will last 40 years, that is certainly far longer than the 25 years cited for a wind turbine. Furthermore, the wind turbine occupies more ground, requires the removal of more foliage / trees / wildlife, and is less reliable. The turbines produce less power at higher costs and more environmental impact than a new gen coal plant.

    countries like Germany and Switzerland are investing heavily in wind power as is China.

    Please explain how and why if all these countries are investing in wind power, why are they all building coal plants at the same time? Germany has effectively admitted wind cannot ever be a prime time player in the power market. Britain has skyrocketing energy prices because of wind to the point were people die because of a lack of power to run heat for their homes. Spain tried wind power and nearly went bankrupt.

    The tide of opinion is that wind may be a good supplemental source of power, but it will never, even in combination with solar, power the grid totally. The fact that wind is never consistent, and requires massive subsidies is always a downfall of the wind systems.

    But john, since you are an advocate of wind turbines and say that the navy supports the idea of AGW, can you tell us when the Navy is installing wind power for the new class of warships? Can you tell us the battery life of the new F-35 Navy fighter and the turbine blade length of the wind turbines that power it?

  4. Here’s something interesting to note about wind power, John: typically, you only get a capacity factor someone in the mid to lower 30% range. What this means is if you have a wind farm that is rated at 1000 megawatts, you are only going to get an output in the 320-370 megawatt range. Then factor in the footprint, which can be in the 80-100 square mile range. That gives you an average power density of 1.5 megawatts per square mile. Compare that to natural gas, coal, and nuclear, which tend to have capacity factors in the 85% and higher range, with huge power densities since their footprints are much, much, much smaller.

    And solar is even worse in terms of power capacity, though its power density is slightly higher than wind, since the footprints are smaller.

    Now, if they could get the costs down and drastically increase the power densities, while reducing footprint, that would be great. I’d love to do away with coal. But they aren’t even close.

    Interestingly, hydro has a large density and large capacity, yet enviroweenies want to not only not allow and dams to be built, they want existing ones torn down.

  5. […] at Pirate’s Cove is blogging about “Oops: $2.3 Million Wind Turbine For VA Sits […]

  6. Nighthawk says:

    Coal plants only have a life comparable to wind? Of about 40 years?

    Funny. I known of a coal plant that started operation in 1955. What is that? Some 59 years now and still going strong.

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