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The VA Medical Center of St. Cloud, Minnesota was once proud to have installed the first wind turbine of any VA location. They have received many awards for pursuing sustainability initiatives in healthcare… but the wind turbine was one ill-fated initiative from the beginning.

Since its installation in 2011, the turbine has plagued this location with its need for constant and extensive repairs. Even if the repairs had not been a problem for St. Cloud VA, the machine simply does not provide the kilowatt-hours the Obama administration had estimated it might.

The goal was to provide about 15 percent of St. Cloud’s 13 million kilowatt-hour energy needs in the time it ran, but while the turbine was active in 2011 and 2012, it could only produce about three and a half percent of this total, or 464,000 kilowatt-hours.

In August 2012, they stopped running the turbine altogether. It has served as a particularly large bit of sculpture adorning the VA campus for the past six years. Not even a kinetic sculpture, at that.

So it has finally come down the chain of command that St. Cloud will set about tearing this monstrosity down. Barry Venable, the location’s public affairs officer, is relieved to be starting the process.

“After seven and a half years [since its installation], it’s an item of curiosity,” he said.

Still, he stressed that green energy initiatives are not a failure overall; in particular, geothermal energy projects have been a huge success at the St. Cloud facility, living up to projections and saving money.

“We’re talking about one machine,” Venable clarified. “We’re not talking about an industry or a concept.”

It is also worth noting that the successful geothermal fields spread out underground, beneath the facility where they cannot be seen. The failed wind turbine, however, is about the height of a giant sequoia tree, and it is painfully obvious to the locals that it never moves.

Venable cautioned against using this failure as an allegory for government failure or VA failure… but I doubt I could resist taking the shot, to be honest. Even the local newspaper for this town has been calling for a teardown since at least 2013.

It is one thing to try out a new initiative and have it not live up to expectations. Especially with newer technology like advanced wind power, surely such ventures are common.

The thing that galls me about this whole debacle is that they left it to sit and produce zero power for six years before we got to this point with the proposed teardown.

Unless running it would have been so high-risk for repairs as to render the turbine entirely unprofitable, they could have at least let it spin. Three and a half percent is still more than zero percent.

Source: https://www.sctimes.com/story/news/local/2018/08/17/st-cloud-veterans-affairs-va-broken-wind-turbine-coming-down/1020524002/

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25 Comments

  1. In a quick search to find a few answers of interest on the failed wind generator at St. Cloud here is what I have found.

    The wind generator was purchased by former Sec of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki with funding obtained from congress via the American Recovery Act of 2009.

    The contracts award Number is VA776-C-0015 and list J. K. SCANLAN COMPANY, INC. East Falmouth, MA 02536 as the Awardee for the total price of $2,293,500.00.

    The purchase was arranged via Department of Veterans Affairs; National Energy Business Center Seven Hills, OH.

    In November of 2014 the VA canceled the contract due to the failure, on the part of J.K. Scanlan company, to complete the installation.

    In 2011, JK Scanlan claimed to have completed the installation but oil leaks were found that prevented the VA acceptance of the project completion by the VA. The wind generator has sat idle since the oil leak was found and JK Scanlan choose to not repair the problem.

    *******************

    So basically it has been handled like most IT purchase problems at the VA with no real expectation of completion of the contract just get paid and walk away for the Vendors.

    • Oh and everyone has to note that the VA did try to replace the broken Turbine with one they purchased from India. But it arrived broken and they invested in trying to fix it.

      Guess with the VA hiring all the people who can afford to buy the bogus medical transcripts in India and calling them doctors they thought they could buy a broken turbine from India and repair it. I am sure that added another $1.5 million to the cost of the Wind machine.

      Also noted is the fact that they have done repeated studies on the wind generator over the years. The last one costing $300,000 and concluded the VA needs to tear it down. Of course now they the decision to tear it down has been made the big question is how much is it going to cost to tear it down. An educated guess around the price it took to put it up. So probably looking at about another $2 Million to tear it down.

      Just think, the dam thing might have even worked if they had bought American Made instead of the foreign crap.

      But hey to the VA it is only our Taxpayer dollars that got wasted and the AFGE didn’t lose a dime.

  2. Semore, unfortunately, because of our policy of supporting the fossil fuel industry and all its associated pollution, the renewable energy industry has mostly been left to grow because of its merits without the subsidies and encouragement it deserves. The result is, other nations are far more advanced in their technology and design. If you want the most advanced wind turbine available, you have to buy it overseas. The products from Scandinavian countries lead the world in wind power technology today. China leads the world in solar technology. The U.S.A. should lead the world in both of these but some encouragement from our government in the form of incentives would have been necessary. Sadly the fossil fuel industry owns our government and push the denial of the causes of climate change. Along with this, as other nations encourage the education of everyone with free advanced schooling, the cost of that education in the U.S. is a burden only the wealthy can afford and many of our brightest minds languish as a result. As we lose our technological edge, we’ll continue to slip into 3rd world status dependent on other nations for the most advanced technology. But hey, we’ve got more billionaires than any other nation in the world.

    Future generations are left to clean up the mess.

    • China has some of the most polluted air in the world. The green energy revolution has proven to be nothing but a complete sham. Fossil fuel is a dependable and reliable source of energy. The billions spent by government to replace it has proven to be a giant pork barrel boondoggle.

    • Don F,

      I took a look further into commercial wind Turbine manufacturing and while you are correct about them being produced overseas. It is largely by American Companies such as GE through their subsidiaries in China, India, South Korea. Currently GE is the largest Manufacturing of Wind Turbines in the United States but almost all of the commercial manufacturing is done overseas in Spain, India and China.

      Also, as you pointed out the connection with the petrochemical companies in the USA controlling or limiting the production of alternative energy. The sale of all Enron wind energy tech to GE is what made them the largest manufacturer of Wind Turbines. GE quickly moved all Manufacturing overseas.

      Currently it appears that most of the wind turbines manufacture in the United States is by foreign owned companies. With most of the production of non-commercial wind Turbines.

      • GE does plenty of assembly in the US. Blades are sourced here, and elsewhere. They bought LM glasfibre for blades, who, have two plants in the US. GE did a deal with the French devils and moved GE Power Division to France – and no assembly that I know of.

        They are #2 behind Vestas – and have been.

        GE totally hosed the Enron shareholders in the Bankruptcy. They were in a bidding war with Caterpillar for Enron wind, who, bid it up to $300 million. GE clawed back about $250 million on “undisclosed warranty obligations” – which is complete BS. They’d been camped at Enron Wind’s California HQ for two years before the deal and they knew everything. There’s also a whole suite of Intellectual Property that mysteriously wasn’t on the asset list of Enron Wind. Slimy lawyers everywhere you turn. (sorry Ben)

    • DonF: Wind and solar are subsidized in the form of a PTC – production tax credit. It’s currently valued at a whopping $0.023/kWhr. It’s a ten year credit, so, full monitization of the credit requires the tax equity partner to have a reliable tax liability for a decade. Think big banks and insurance companies, and now, more and more utilities. You and I cannot invest directly. Period.
      The wind PTC is now drawing down and will expire end of 2022 at ?? 40% of what it is now (maybe 60). Solar has a permanent tax credit of (fact check) 15% of capital costs. Most of the Chinese technology is German and Dutch. First Solar (Walmart’s John Walton) didn’t go to China – Malaysia. I think a Korean shop is setting up a massive plant in Florida. Again – global supply chain. Like it or not.

      The wind industry has been campaigning to be rid of the PTC due to the costs associated with tax leverage finance. We’ve begged Congress for Master Limited Partnerships, which can only be used in oil and gas exploration – and pipelines .. and…. Just another permanent subsidy for Petro – an industry that is only 140 years old and needs the support of the American crapsplayer.

      DanF. Indeed – China has a long way to go. But they got the memo and will be spending trillions on renewables. Their first major launch a decade ago didn’t do well because their grid could not keep up with growth in both load and generation. Don’t for get corruption. It’s hardly a transparent system. Their transmission infrastructure upgrade plan is underway and is massive (they don’t need permits).

      And speaking of boondogles and subsidies. Yesterday, while Trump was extolling the virtues of coal and exhorting the in-bred WVaginans to “blow down those wind towers”, our beloved petro-chem industry asked for tax payers to shell out for a 60 mile sea barrier …. due to climate change and rising sea levels.

  3. Norman Veterans Center contracted doctor accused of assaulting wife, Oklahoma City police officer
    By Jacob McGuire | Transcript Staff Writer Aug 22, 2018 Updated 8 hrs ago

    “A Norman Veterans Center doctor who was contracted through another company was arrested for allegedly assaulting a law enforcement officer.

    According to an Oklahoma City Police Department arrest report, 57-year-old Drew Cooper was arrested Aug. 14 for allegedly assaulting his wife and an OCPD officer who had responded to a domestic dispute call at the couple’s home.

    “Once we learned of the accusations and saw the police report, we took immediate action,” Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs spokesperson Shane Faulkner said. “We are not allowing Cooper to be present in any of our facilities.

    “We have contacted the medical services company responsible for providing our doctors and, pending the outcome of the case, have directed them to assign another doctor for the position.”

    Faulkner said Cooper is not a Veterans Affairs employee, but rather he is contracted through Long Term Care Specialists, an Oklahoma City company, who supplies doctors for the department.

    Long Term Care Specialists Chief Operating Officer Jason Martin confirmed Cooper is an employee of the company and issued a statement in regard to Cooper’s arrest.”

    Full Article At: “https://www.normantranscript.com/news/oklahoma/norman-veterans-center-contracted-doctor-accused-of-assaulting-wife-oklahoma/article_5c92d4fd-9a90-5efb-ba57-4d4fa6f940b9.html”

  4. In other news but related to the VA and India’s, and South Africa’s, defective doctors. Dell Computer moguls Michael & Susan Dell’s newly created medical school in Austin Tx just signed a contract for all the training dummies they can handle in addition to all the non-human research subjects they need to make their new research facility profitable.

    See: “Austin gets ‘first V.A. hospital’ as part of Dell Medical School/Veterans Affairs partnership”
    By: Casey Claiborne, Fox News 7, Aug 22 2018

    “The union was announced at a press conference Wednesday morning. “We really collaborate so that we do a residency-training program and patients can be seen in the outpatient setting and training residents in that setting and then handing them off if they need inpatient care at Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas,” said Christann Vasquez, President of Dell Seton.”

    “https://www.fox7austin.com/news/local-news/austin-gets-first-va-hospital-as-part-of-dell-medical-schoolveterans-affairs-partnership”

    ***************************

    Michael & Susan Dell through their Dell Foundation began their work to support a new medical school in 2013 opening schools in both India and South Africa. Now they have expanded with the opening of their new medical facility in Austin which opened in 2016.

    I am sure they enjoy the idea of bringing third world medicine to the VA in Austin TX. No doubt at a very reasonable profit in their eyes.

  5. From: *”VA.gov”*
    “Intergovernmental Affairs”

    Titled: “VA updates the disability rating schedule related to skin conditions”

    Dated: August 13, 2018, 02:34:00 PM

    “VA updates the disability rating schedule related to skin conditions”

    “WASHINGTON — Effective Aug. 13, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) updated portions of the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD, or Rating Schedule) that evaluate conditions related to the skin.”

    “The VASRD is the collection of federal regulations used by Veterans Benefits Administration claims processors to evaluate the severity of disabilities and assign disability ratings.”

    “VA is in the process of updating all 15 body systems of the VASRD to reflect modern medicine more accurately and provide clearer rating decisions.”

    “VA remains committed to providing Veterans the benefits they have earned at the highest quality,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “With modern medicine advancing at a rapid rate, it’s important to ensure VA’s disability rating schedule and rating decisions reflect these advancements.”

    “No conditions were removed from the new skin rating schedule. However, several diagnostic codes were restructured or revised. The complete list of updates to the rating schedule for skin conditions is now available online. Claims pending prior to August 13 will be considered under both the old and new rating criteria, and whichever criteria are more favorable to the Veteran will be applied. Claims filed on or after August 13 will be rated under the new rating schedule.”

    “By updating the rating schedule for skin conditions, VA claims processors can make more consistent decisions with greater ease and ensure Veterans understand these decisions.”

    “VA has issued several VASRD updates since September 2017, including updates for dental and oral conditions, conditions related to the endocrine system, gynecological conditions and disorders of the breast and eye conditions.”

    _________________________________________

  6. The nature of this blog has changed. Something very different in the way the articles are written seems watered down somehow. I guess wind turbines are important and I suppose a more cheerful and light hearted stab at windmills must be important too but it aint the windmill that is causing the butchery at VA – it is the worms who work under the light bulbs it powers that drain the life from vets. It is the feeling of walking into a prison hospital that my care provider dreads. Cold unfeeling cattle line medicine complete with electric prods to keep the beef moving so they can churn out the hamburger one more day. The trash of the nation works under that windmill and they plug away daily picking who lives and dies, who gets paid and who does not, and they laugh with their size 58 asses held bare to America. I guess a windmill fits in their somewhere.

    Where did then passion go?

  7. @ Dennis and really all y’all,
    I don’t claim to have all of the answers and I hope no one thinks I am ever trying to do that. I really do think that Ben is involved with something that has put the blog further down on the priority to do list. I guess the best that we can do, if we don’t have anything to offer on the topic of the day, is to “talk quietly amongst ourselves”. I mean, why should the topic change the commraderie? If someone finds something to discuss, why not bring that up for some shared points of view? Our only real purpose for showing up each day is to help each of us learn something from each other, so let’s just do that ’til teach gets back to the room!

    @ Seymore Klearly & DaveF,
    Thank you for your posts; they answered some of the questions I had on the topic.

    Then there is the contracted doctor story.
    This is the third time this week I’ve seen something about contratced doctors at different VHA facilities and all three were from different business entities in different parts of the country. Does anyone else think that maybe THAT has something to do with the skilled professionals being reduced to minimal patient care instead of utilizing the full breadth of their profession to care for us properly?

  8. Sweet Geezuz. I’ve been tilting at windmills for over 40 years and there are several things that piss me off about the industry. This is one of them.

    Onsies don’t work, never have, and never will. The amount of maintenance needed on a modern turbine is quite specific, and works best on large farms where there’s 24/7 monitoring and 7/365 technician support available. The cost effectiveness of onsies is pure bullshit.

    Mobilization of a crane and construction for a single unit can be over a half million alone. Actual crane “hourly” time – 10 on a bad day. $2.4 million for a 600 kW machine – $4k/kW. In 2001 I was installing 900 kW and 1500kW machines (in quantity) at less than $1500/kW. And 2011 would have been lower due to the bank-bailout charlie-foxtrot. Also – in 2011, nobody was building/buying/selling 600kW machines. By then, the industry was installing 1.5 – 2.0 MW machines. This thing started out as an orphan and died as one. I haven’t dug too far, but cannot identify the make of the turbine from the one photo that I’ve seen.

    Scanlon? Never heard of this organization, not in construction nor project development. But, obviously someone well schooled in the art of filling out federal RFPs.

    It’s odd – the two largest balance of plant contractors in wind (not development or OEMs, but cranes and concrete) are in Minnesota – Blattner Energy out of Avon, near St. Cloud, and MAMortenson Construction.

    I know – it’s a stretch, but I’ll ask ya’ll not the throw the baby out with the bath-water. The wind industry will soon have over 100,000 MW of installed capacity nationwide. The production tax credit is being phased out, and the industry will stand alone by 2022. I’ve seen 20 year energy contracts in OK and KS and ND for less than $0.02/kWhr. National fleet availability, e.g. amount of time the machines are mechanically available to perform, is in excess of 97% Some projects are achieving an annual capacity factor of nearly 50%. The amount of jobs in wind dwarfs coal, both in mining and at operating plants. Iowa is home to multiple blade plants. GE has three US assembly plants. Vestas (DK) has massive tower, blade, and turbine assembly plants in CO. Siemens has blade and assembly plants in KS and IA. There’s tower plants in TX, LA, and WI. GE got pissed because I told my client NOT to accept machines with Chinese gearboxes. Too bad. They got the good ones (from Europe and the US), and they’ve had no problems. Oh – some of you guys will love this. GE is buying towers from … Viet Nam. It has become a global supply chain – like it or not.

    Grid: WE – the industry raised the bar on power quality and system reliability in 2004/5/6 and again last year (with FERC and NERC). Since the mid 2000s, the majority of transmission system upgrades and expansion has been for wind, and now solar.

    Sometimes, our biggest cheerleaders also happen to be our biggest enemies. Minnesota and Iowa are dotted with elementary schools that have installed a wind mill – few if any have worked or even come close to paying for themselves. It’s called Green Porn. Do gooders just gotta have a legacy symbol. St. Olaf in Northfield damn near installed a machine “indoors”. There’s a turbine that will never wear out – it’s surround by hills twice as high as the rotor. Carlton college in Northfield, by contrast, installed a six pack of machines outside of town, and they’re still running and doing quite well – last I heard/saw. Just how cost effective – I dunno.

    Gimme a sec to snug up my steel pot and hunker in my bunker and you boys can flame away.

    • I’ve actually been looking into renewable energy lately. Everything from geothermal wind and solar. I wonder if it would be cost effecient to install something like a mini molten salt reactor. I’ve been on a bit of a prepper bend lately so been researching the shit out of this stuff.

      • I for one am a big fan of MSRs. From a national energy policy perspective, we should be all over it. The reason Weinberg failed to get traction in ’57 was Thorium MSRs don’t produce fissionable material. Our nuclear energy program was never about energy. If fucking Trump knew that the DOE is cofunding Fucking China for the first 40 MW MSR – he’d shit cheeto-juice. MSRs can re-burn waste nuclear material and reduce the waste mass significantly, as well as “some” of the half life. And best, thorium is abundant, co-reactive with nuke waste, and it will never run away.

        But, the DoE budget runs about $24B per year. $20 of that is for nuke….. and how many new nukes have we brought on line in the last two decades. ?? It’s a club, and Thorium ain’t in it.

        As for doing a mini DIY MSR. Buy a boat, throw all your money into it, and sink that mother.

        Or – if you want your own – go solar. Small wind sucks – no service networks and piss poor engineering. Who wants moving parts?. Solar prices have plummeted. If you shop, you get the drop. The resellers touting tax credits are still jacking up the prices.

  9. 08/23/2018

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    You stated, “The thing that galls me about this whole debacle is that they left it to sit and produce zero power for six years before we got to this point with the proposed teardown.”

    From a 2009 “Study” is when someone in Management or Above wanted to Purchase the Turbine and wanted a Contract, to install this “monstrosity [The wind generator was purchased by former Sec of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki with funding obtained from congress via the American Recovery Act of 2009.
    The contracts award Number is VA776-C-0015 and list J. K. SCANLAN COMPANY, INC. East Falmouth, MA 02536 as the Awardee for the total price of $2,293,500.00.
    —-Seymore Klearly—thank you];” sometime in April 2011 the Turbine was installed with a Warranty [a cheap households turbines comes with at least a One Year guarantee]; and the turbine stopped running on August 2012. Was it under contract? Most Manufacturers have a Five Year Warranty on their Machines on certain parts and comes with a given maintenance program [mechanic to look at it on a quarterly basis or monthy basis].

    Was Management talked out of this Maintenance program?
    How much did this Turbine Cost? [$2,293,500.00]
    The Base for the installation was constructed in 09/xx/2010—who did this work?
    Who installed the monstrosity? [J. K. SCANLAN COMPANY, INC.]
    Who is un-installing the monstrosity?—the same people?
    Who is receiving the scrap metal?——-the same people?
    Who Orders this monstrosity?-a friend of the same people? Did the VA Secretary know the Executives?
    Has anyone really evaluated this machine?—hopefully not the same people involved.

    A crime can be implace for many years before picking the fruits of its labor.

    It is time to look at what has really been going on and do not listen to the Local Newspaper [Carl Icahn’s] who is in chahoots with everyone on the top.

    Get the answers now before the 2019 tear down!

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg
    Thank You—Seymore Klearly

  10. Been if your listening we had a veteran kill himself at the new Mishawaka VA in Indiana it was bussiness as usual like nothing happened I left the VA feeling upset and angry

    • The Suicide is mentioned in one article that I found on the web and there is a news report that shows law enforcement handling the area where the Veteran did commit suicide.

      The article and News report are at: “https://www.wndu.com/content/news/Its-okay-to-ask-for-help-491581681.html”

      • Just more government waste and distractions, per article.

        In some areas wind or solar is not feasible or possible. Not enough Sun, not enough wind per studies and attempts by some. As mentioned before one school here wasted tax dollars on a wind turbine and I’ve never seen it turn, once, since first tried. As lefty colleges and movements keep pushing for those alternatives. AND, while the ruling local lefty college/state’s billionaire backers got to drill and pump oil from their down town campus. Dead center of town. While complaining about “fossil fuels,” and “Cow farts.” I haven’t seen any Jack Pumps yet but reports claim it’s incognito. Most others have no mineral rights. They, the rulers and town fascist…”don’t want dirty jobs here anymore.” As the college brags of being the town’s largest employer now after running and keeping “dirty jobs” out of the area. Following the lies and propaganda, Agenda 21 and more to the T kissing the rings of globalist. Sustainability? My butt.

        Suicide news?
        “We don’t normally report on suicides, but this is a problem that is sweeping the nation, and it’s something seen right here in Michiana.”

        Thats a major issue in Indiana and a standard for all local media outlets and types. They don’t report any real news or happenings across the state or even what is happening in our own towns. Sirens blasting the night air, no news. Few specifics or investigations, no questions allowed. No real journalist, like non-ethical health care workers, are being pushed through local colleges to pretend to be “professionals” or experts in their fields. Ha. It’s all about corruption, propaganda, and creating the facade of positive living in our commie villages. No negatives allowed. No real news or transparency allowed, no questions or challenging any form of corrupt professionals or authority here. Jails are over filled and the public doesn’t have a clue as to why, what kind of crimes but more push for laws and tax dollars for the police state. It’s all obvious but the sheep don’t care, period.

        That is why so many in this state, the VA, etc., can get by with the evils they do. A person can get killed by activist in a local hospital, by ‘angels of mercy,’ nothing will be reported or known of it. Spread of disease or corruption, scamming, no news. Events happening to me… it’s all okay. DNR patients laying in filth, that’s okay too and few would know some reality. Ahh the mafias got to kill off another one that refused to assimilate and join the herds. No problem. No conscience to worry about or shame to be found locally or state levels or in medicine apparently. Absolutely none in this states media… just censoring and retribution to ignoring major issues. The new America… from the top down, bottom up.

  11. Ben if your listening we had a veteran kill himself at the new Mishawaka VA in Indiana it was bussiness as usual like nothing happened I left the VA feeling upset and angry

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