NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 2, 2010

Minnesota spent $3.3 million on 11 wind turbines. $3.3 million may be a rounding error by Washington standards, but it is real money to most of us, says John Stossel, a reporter with FOX Business and FOX New. 

What's notable is that none of the wind turbines work in cold weather.  Minnesota has cold weather?  Who knew?  

  • The problem is that the hydraulic fluid, which lubricates the turbines, doesn't work.
  • This fluid was designed for colder temperatures, but during the cold Minnesota winters, it doesn't work, so neither do the windmills.  

But this is government, where throwing good money after bad is second nature.  Rather than give up, there's now a plan to heat the hydraulic fluid, says Stossel. 

How will the heaters work? 

  • They'll have to use either electricity or natural gas at each turbine to keep the mechanism lubricated.
  • That will drastically reduce the net energy gain from each turbine, depending on how much heating the turbine fluid needs to stop congealing in the winter.
  • Since cold weather in Minnesota lasts anywhere from 4-6 months, that makes it very inefficient as an energy resource. 

The irony here, says Stossel, is that taxpayer-subsidized green energy zealots would burn fuel to make a windmill turn.     

Source: Ed Morrissey, "Minnesota wind turbines won't work in cold weather," Hot Air, January 30, 2010; and John Stossel, "No-Spin Zones," FOX News, February 1, 2010. 

For Morrissey text:  


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