Taxpayer dollars gone with the wind.
Paul Gaynor CEO of First Wind (left) and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
Boston's First Wind Suffers Major Setbacks at Kahuku Project in Hawaii
By Green-Energy Analyst Barbara Durkin
The third fire at First Wind’s Kahuku Wind project since operations began in March of 2011 spewed lead and lasted for three days. The publicly-funded multimillion dollar Xtreme Battery storage facility filled with toxic smoke, and 12,000 batteries were completely destroyed. Hawaii News Now reports some fear this environmental threat will be repeated at First Wind’s other projects.
Hawaii Free Press provides a grim prognosis for Kahuku Wind:
“Recent developments reduce the chances that First Wind will ever be able to repair the defective turbines which were supposed to power the burned batteries at Kahuku.”
Boston-based First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor is Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s appointed green policy advisor under the Global Warming Solutions Act. Gaynor is also appointed co-chair of the Mass Department of Environmental Protection Advisory Committee “Low Carbone Energy Supply Subcommittee.” First Wind has benefitted by a $117 million loan guarantee for (12) Clipper Liberty wind turbines at Kahuku despite a trade secret between Clipper Wind and First Wind executed to obscure from the public information about structural and mechanical problems ongoing with Clipper wind turbines.
Cash-strapped-Clipper, founded by Enron’s James Dehlsen, was recently dumped by the parent company United Technology Corporation UTC to Platinum Equity of CA that expressed no interest in providing remedy to Clipper’s $300 million costs in unscheduled maintenance. First Wind has deployed Clipper Liberty wind turbines in projects across the US according to court documents, with 12 newly installed but idle at Kahuku Wind, by loan of $117 million backed by the public.
First Wind recently sought a writ of attachment from the courts against Clipper Wind for $59.5 million dollars in Cedar Rapids, with arbitration proceeding in Chicago. A similar case has been filed against Clipper under sealed documents in Santa Barbara, CA. The (Iowa) Gazette reported on November 3, 2012: “Clipper has not only ceased production of these turbines, but has wrongfully refused to return the advance payments, even though it has no plans to meet its contractual obligations to produce and deliver the turbines to first wind,” the lawsuit said.”
Massachusetts’ Deval Patrick Administration in May of 2009 identified the long beleaguered Clipper Wind as the Wind Turbine Technology Testing Facility's first customer.
While the Pacific Coast Business Times reported on November 16, 2012, “Clipper Windpower appears ready to implement a plan to eliminate all of its South Coast positions and shutter its Carpinteria headquarters by early next year.”
The Charlestown Wind Turbine Technology Testing Center has received ARRA stimulus of $24.7 million, and $13.2 million in grants and loans from Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MACEC), with Founding Chairman former MA Executive Secretary of Energy Ian Bowles. MACEC, formed under the Patrick Administration’s Jobs Act, collects ratepayer dollars to invest in green business ventures of questionable public merit. This publicly-funded $40 million dollar Wind Turbine Technology Testing Center, operated by MACEC, has provided 0.00 jobs for the past 1.5 years according to the federal government's recovery tracker.
NECN Boston refers to First Wind as 'New England’s largest wind developer.' And, waving a bright red flag Hawaii Free Press refers to First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor as the ‘Hawaii Wind Developer tied to Largest-ever asset seizure by anti-Mafia police.’ UPC First Wind got its start when Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) alum Paul Gaynor was tapped by UPC Group to bring the success of wind projects in Italy, Italian Vento Power Corporation (IVPC), to the United States according to WPI Summer News 2005.
While multiple news outlets, including the Financial Times, report that the President of Italian Wind Energy Association and Director of the IVPC was arrested on “charges related to fraud involved in obtaining public subsidies to construct wind farms” in November of 2009 during Operation “Gone with the Wind.” Oreste Vigorito of IVPC was convicted in July of 2012.
According to House Budget Committee’s ‘Empty Promise of Green Jobs’ study, “The Costly Consequences of Crony Capitalism” 11/21/11:
First Wind Holdings received a $117 million loan guarantee in March of 2010. First Wind withdrew its initial public offering in October of 2010, due to a lack of investor demand. According to the Boston Globe, investors shied away from the company because “First Wind owes more than $500 million, loses money on a steady basis, and reports a negative cash flow.”
The House Oversight Committee Report of March 20, 2012 titled, 'The Department of Energy’s Disastrous Management of Loan Guarantee Program' provides blistering criticism of green company executives lining their pockets before filing for bankruptcy in MA. First Wind, developer of "Kahuku" is identified as (S&P “Junk” rated) in this report.
The Interior Department photo above was actually used for promotional purposes by DOI for First Wind’s Kawailoa project in Oahu. It’s troubling that Secretary Salazar has ignored the catastrophic and publicly-funded failures of First Wind and Xtreme Battery at Kahuku Wind in Oahu. Awarding public subsidies to "Junk" rated wind companies whose technology has ongoing mechanical and structural problems under "trade secret” is an outrage.
Neither the Obama nor the MA Patrick Administration have picked a winner in First Wind so much as they have sealed the fate of tax and ratepayers funding First Wind, affiliates’ and subsidiaries’, vendors’ and dependents’ failures. If the objectives are low-cost green jobs, reliable and affordable energy sources that are reasonably safe, we’ve not met these with public funding, grants and loan guarantees to the US pioneers of UPC First Wind.
Barbara Durkin is the green-energy reporter for the Daily Bail. She has spent the past decade interfacing with regulators and stakeholders in the Ad Hoc review of the "world's largest" Cape Wind offshore wind project. Her independent investigation of wind energy cost vs. benefits has expanded beyond the shores of Nantucket Sound to include land-based renewable energy.