Lake Land College Blows $1,017,697.20 “Into the Wind”
Mattoon, IL – Lake Land College –
Costly Broken Wind Turbines Give College Whopping Negative 99.14% Return On Investment
Posted By Andrew Follett On 1:32 PM 04/12/2016 In |
Lake Land College recently announced plans to tear down broken wind turbines on campus, after the school got $987,697.20 in taxpayer support for wind power.
The turbines were funded by a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, but the turbines lasted for less than four years and were incredibly costly to maintain.
“Since the installation in 2012, the college has spent $240,000 in parts and labor to maintain the turbines,” Kelly Allee, Director of Public Relations at Lake Land College, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The college estimates it would take another $100,000 in repairs to make the turbines function again after one of them was struck by lightning and likely suffered electrical damage last summer. School officials’ original estimates found the turbine would save it $44,000 in electricity annually, far more than the $8,500 they actually generated. Under the original optimistic scenario, the turbines would have to last for 22.5 years just to recoup the costs, not accounting for inflation. If viewed as an investment, the turbines had a return of negative 99.14 percent.
“While they have been an excellent teaching tool for students, they have only generated $8,500 in power in their lifetime,” she said. “One of the reasons for the lower than expected energy power is that the turbines often need to be repaired. They are not a good teaching tool if they are not working.”
The college estimates it would take another $100,000 in repairs to make the turbines function again after one of them was struck by lightning and likely suffered electrical damage last summer.
Even though the college wants to tear down one of the turbines, they are federal assets and “there is a process that has to be followed” according to Allee.
The turbines became operational in 2012 after a 5-year long building campaign intended to reduce the college’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to fight global warming. Even though the turbines cost almost $1 million, but the college repeatedly claimed they’d save money in the long run.
“It is becoming more and more difficult for us financially to maintain the turbines,” Josh Bullock, the college’s president, told the Journal Gazette and Times-Courier last week. “I think it was an extremely worthy experiment when they were installed, but they just have not performed to our expectations to this point.”
Bullock states that the turbines simply haven’t been able to power the campus’ buildings and that most of the electricity wasn’t effectively used.
Lake Land plans to replace the two failed turbines with a solar power system paid for by a government grant. “[T]he photovoltaic panels are expected to save the college between $50,000 and $60,000 this year,”Allee told the DCNF.
Globally, less than 30 percent of total power wind capacity is actually utilized as the intermittent and irregular nature of wind power makes it hard to use.Power demand is relatively predictable, but the output of a wind turbine is quite variable over time and generally doesn’t coincide with the times when power is most needed. Thus, wind power systems require conventional backups to provide power during outages. Since the output of wind turbines cannot be predicted with high accuracy by forecasts, grid operators need to keep excess conventional power systems running.
Wind power accounted for only 4.4 percent of electricity generated in America in 2014, according to the Energy Information Administration.
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MATTOON, IL. (ECWd) –
Lake Land College has reportedly discussed taking down the wind turbine that was struck by lightning last year due to the cost of repairs – and because it never really worked as they thought it would.
Lake Land College (LLC) wind turbine history can be seen here:
2007-2010 COST BREAKDOWN:
2007: Wind feasibility study completed for $30,000
2010: LLC provided $500,000 from Illinois DCEO to “build one turbine.”
2010: LLC provided 18% of $2,542,762 from US Dept of Labor for “green job training program and related equipment including a 100 kW turbine.” (The turbine portion of this US DoL grant calculates to $457,697.20 per the small print details.)
WHAT DO WE HAVE TO SHOW FOR TAXPAYER $987,697.20 spent to build these boondoggles?https://www.lakelandcollege.edu/as/tec/sustain/documents/Sustainability%20Media%20Guide%202012.pdf
Operation date: 2012
(read the comments from “gringa”in 2012……totally good point about it never paying for themselves)
“No mention of payback periods in this article. Seems like LLC would include the economic effectiveness of this investment in any discussion of it. After all, isn’t this all about return on investment? Maybe not. Wind is free, but the land and equipment and maintenance to that equipment is NOT free. “
in 2014, another article was written touting the “savings”:
LLC should update their college website “infomercial” found here since the turbines no longer (if ever) actually saved $44,000 per year per the over-optimistic claims:
Just for fun, IF the turbines saved $44,000 per year, these two junkers would have to last 22.5 years, but they only lasted a shameful FOUR YEARS!!!!!
This year – April 2016 – Lake Land College to consider taking down wind turbine:
Posted from TG-TC.com – https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2016/04/10/lake-land-board-to-weigh-future-of-wind-turbine/
“Bullock said the southernmost wind turbine of Lake Land’s two 160-foot-tall, 100-kilowatt turbines was damaged by a lightning strike last summer and has not functioned properly since then. He said the administration does not believe that making the nearly $100,000 in repairs estimated for the turbine would be cost effective.”
They were not “cost-effective” when they were built, why is that an issue now?
“Bullock said the two 100-kilowatt turbines, which were made possible with federal grant funding, have not been effective at powering buildings on campus. “
Just now figuring out they are not effective?
I wonder how much these machines actually produced while they were operating……….probably even less than the most conservative estimates. This all makes me want to puke……it adds up to more than THREE TIMES THE LOSS of the below $319,900 home ruined by the InvEnergy wind farm in Vermilion County, IL.
The Zillow listing for the Vermilion Co. house: http://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/Armstrong-IL/pmf,pf_pt/2106868722_zpid/23520_rid/any_days/40.334768,-87.712956,40.186217,-88.048039_rect/11_zm/1_rs/
Both LLC’s turbines should be removed to delete the shameful “monument of waste.”
Please consider a donation to the Edgar County Watchdogs.
MATTOON, IL. (ECWd) –
This is a common situation that we discover time and time again in nearly every public body we look at.
We saw this in:
-DeWitt County Probation Office (here),
-Arcola Township (here),
-Edgar County Housing Authority (here),
-Edgar County ETSB,
-Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department,
-Effingham County Public Health Department,
-East Central Illinois Mass Transit District (here),
-Paris City Council (here),
-and even with the Mayor of Paris (here) and (here).
ALL of them constitutional violations and felonious actions left unprosecuted.
What makes this particular incident unusual is that apparently the LLC Trustees informed the Coles County State’s Attorney, who is actually pressing charges. Go figure…that is what appears to be uncommon in this case.
Without further comment, here is the article from the jg-tc.com website:
JG-TC: Officials announced Friday that a Lake Land College employee who was dismissed Thursday was arrested for allegedly using a college credit card for personal purchases.
Tammy Boeser was arrested on suspicion of theft, according to a news release that the college and the Coles County State’s Attorney’s Office issued jointly.
Boeser is charged with making personal purchases with a college credit card over roughly a four-year period, State’s Attorney Brian Bower said Friday. He said the charge alleges the theft of at least $10,000 but the investigation is continuing and an exact amount hasn’t been determined.
The release also said the college has made changes to its purchasing and credit card procedures.
MATTOON, IL (ECWd) –
Updated at the bottom on 10-1-2013…
After learning that there were potential real estate property tax objections, either filed or ready to be filed, related to Lakeland College (LLC), we decided to find out why a property owner would file a tax objection against LLC, our local community college.
What we found was that it was business owner(s) filing the objection, claiming LLC was in direct competition with them for local business. This competition comes from LLC’s operation of a “print shop” that accepts and fulfills orders from both LLC, and from locals that want those services. Just so you get this straight; business (property) owners pay real estate taxes, which in part go to LLC, and then LLC effectively takes their potential customers by providing the same services the business provides.
Let’s Start With The FOIA Request
We submitted a Freedom Of Information Act Request (FOIA) to LLC seeking public records, and here was their response:
This will confirm Lake Land College’s receipt on September 7, 2013 of your attached request pursuant to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA) dated September 7, 2013. The records sought by your request are listed below, followed by the College’s response to each item.
1. Copy of the Print Shop policy on soliciting/providing print shop services to non-governmental agencies/individuals.
Response: The College has no documents responsive to this request.
2. Copy of the Print Shop policy on soliciting/providing print shop services to governmental agencies/individuals.
Response: The College has no documents responsive to this request.
3. Copy of the Print Shop policy on soliciting/providing any work, other than LLC work.
Response: The College has no documents responsive to this request.
4. Copy of all invoices/receipts of all print shop work performance for non-LLC agencies/individuals since Jan 1, 2013.
Response: The College has 604 pages of documents responsive to this request. See attached PDF file “Documents Responsive to Item No. 4.”
Who Uses The LLC Print Shop?
Normally it wouldn’t matter to us where people or businesses purchase items they use, but when a public body is in direct competition with private businesses it makes a difference (see the list here from Jan-Aug 2013). The LLC Print Shop invoiced and received well over $100,000 just in the first 8 months of 2013. Their “customers” were local churches, local businesses, individuals, photographers, private graphics businesses, and local organizations that purport to “further the interest of business” such as the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce, Mattoon Rotary, Sullivan Chamber of Commerce, and the East Central Illinois Development Corporation (ECIDC) just to name a few.
I would urge each and everyone of those using this service to re-think what you are doing – governments should not be in competition with private business!
Why Does It Matter?
Money to the local economy, employees to local businesses, sales taxes, and income taxes just to name a few. All taken from private businesses by a tax supported public body.
What Does The Statute Say?
The Illinois Community College Act does not give a community college the authority to operate a business in direct competition with local businesses. How can they think it’s OK to tax a person, and then compete with them?
Now we must bring up Dillon’s Rule again: Dillon Rule,” which states that municipal governments only have the powers that are expressly granted to them by the state legislature…” The state legislature grant powers thru statutes, and the applicable statute here does not give LLC the power to compete with private business.
Two emails seeking input from the LLC and its President have gone unanswered for 5 days, so they must not have any comments to provide. What I asked was for their comments and specifically any comments on which statute allows them to do what they are doing. We would still love to hear from them.
Spreadsheet developed by Judy Pufahl of Paris, Illinois…
More statutoral references…
Paragraph 1(a) of 11o ILCS 205, Board of Higher Education defines Public Institutions of Higher Education as:
(a) "Public institutions of higher education": The University of Illinois; Southern Illinois University; Chicago State University; Eastern Illinois University; Governors State University; Illinois State University; Northeastern Illinois University; Northern Illinois University; Western Illinois University; the public community colleges of the State and any other public universities, colleges and community colleges now or hereafter established or authorized by the General Assembly.
Statute 110 ILCS 115, University Credit and Retail Sales Act specifically prohibits sales of certain items if those items can reasonably be expected to be in competition with private retail merchants in the community:
(a) The governing board of a State institution of higher learning may not permit or authorize a retail store carrying any line of general merchandise to be operated by that institution or to be operated on property held or leased for the use of the institution when such an operation can reasonably be expected to be in competition with private retail merchants in the community, unless the goods sold by that store are unavailable in quantities sufficient to meet the reasonably expected student demand, are unavailable on a year round basis or were commonly sold by the institution or on such property before January 1, 1980. The governing board of a State institution of higher learning also may not permit or authorize any person to conduct a business of selling goods, services, or a combination thereof to the general public on property held or leased for the use of the institution when such an operation can reasonably be expected to be in competition with private retail merchants in the community unless such merchants have the opportunity to compete for the operation of such a business on such property. "Person" means an individual, corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, association, cooperative, or any other legal entity. This Act does not prohibit the sale by such an institution or on such property of items commonly sold by such institutions before January 1, 1980. "Commonly sold" means exclusively those lines of products sold in the regular course of business prior to January 1, 1980. This Act does not prohibit the sale of goods which are the result of technological advances since 1980 and are required for assignments or classroom activities.
With that said, it is my understanding, and we have a letter written to Chapin Rose a few years back, that the print shop at EIU used to do the same things that LLC is doing now – and Rep. Rose was instrumental in getting it stopped. The same thing needs to happen in this case.