St. Cloud VA to Scrap Dysfunctional $2.5 Million Wind Turbine

Nothing stands for government waste and green energy excess like the frozen 250 foot high wind turbine at the St. Cloud Veterans Administration Hospital. But alas, not for much longer.

In July the VA finally plans to tear down what’s become a classic symbol of government ineptitude not only in Minnesota but nationwide. The agency’s capitulation follows years of disparagement by the public and the media, including this post I filed in 2014.

“The fact of the matter is this machine has not performed as hoped at all. It has a terrible record,” [VA spokesman Barry] Venable said.

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.

“The turbine really hasn’t been online since August 2012; we’ve been at repair since,” said Venable of the St. Cloud VA.

The now approximately $2.5 million federal stimulus project never came close to living up to its billing as a model green energy project by the Obama administration. It was the first wind turbine installed by the VA system and with any luck for taxpayers, the last.

But only after another expensive taxpayer-funded “study” was undertaken in 2018 did the agency conclude the wind turbine was a lemon and liability that had  to go.

Instead of mothballing the project and cutting taxpayers’ losses, the federal agency recently doubled down on the failed federal stimulus project. The VA announced plans in October to spend an additional $300,000 in public funds to re-evaluate their options.

“VA has made a contract award to conduct a study to inform any future actions at the wind turbine site,” St. Cloud VA Spokesman Barry Venable confirmed in an email. “The study will include…an on-site wind resource assessment to fully characterize the wind resource and identify suitable wind turbines for the site based on wind characteristics.”

So after years of flubs and taking flak for a politically correct mission imposed by Washington, the St. Cloud VA hopes to get back to focusing its energy on providing quality healthcare to Minnesota veterans. But only after blowing more than $300,000 additional taxpayer funds to tear the turbine down.

“Yes, it will take money away from other projects that could enhance veterans’ care,” Venable said [to the Star Tribune]. “We’re unhappy about it. … For the St. Cloud VA, it’s an embarrassment.”