Experimental wind turbines installed at taxpayer expense on the Michael V. DiSalle Government Center in Toledo failed less than two years after installation and are now sitting unused. Renewable energy advocates had promised the rooftop wind turbines would save taxpayers thousands of dollars each year in reduced electricity costs for the building.
Turbines Quickly Failed
The turbines ceased to spin and generate energy in March 2012. Beth Gianforcaro, state Development Services Agency (DSA) spokeswoman, reported the government agency deactivated the turbines due to maintenance and performance issues.
When Helix Wind Corp.—the manufacturer and installer of the turbines on the DiSalle Center—went bankrupt, state officials were left unsure of whether it was even possible for the turbines to be repaired.
State officials approved the purchase of the wind turbines at the recommendation of the Ohio Building Authority (OBA). OBA owned the 22-story Government Center at the time and received praise for its embrace of green energy. Renewable energy advocates claimed the $224,300 wind turbines would save taxpayers money.
Toledo Mayor Michael Bell, the city’s first politically unaffiliated mayor, also praised the project, saying “the wind turbines are a step in the right direction.”
OBA assistant executive director Mark Haberman told reporters the turbines would save taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars each year in electricity costs. According to Haberman, the project was supposed to save enough taxpayer money to justify the investment after 15 years, roughly halfway through the turbines’ predicted operating lifespan.
Even before the turbines stopped spinning, however, there were ominous signs the renewable energy advocates could not back up their promises. For example, even spinning at full efficiency the wind turbines would only be able to produce 0.0035 percent of the building’s typical annual energy consumption. Even if the turbines had not failed, they still seemed unlikely to ever recoup their