AG: Minnesota farmers cheated by wind energy firm - New York News

AG: Minnesota farmers cheated by wind energy firm

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ST. PAUL, Minn. -

Minnesota's attorney general is seeking an immediate court order to stop an Excelsior company from selling any more small wind turbines to farmers.

Attorney General Lori Swanson is making the request to stop sales while a lawsuit filed by her office against the company, Renewable Energy, makes its way through Hennepin County District Court.

"It's real serious harm," Swanson said. "Imagine giving up a mortgage on your farm and putting your farm property at risk on a promise this wind turbine project would deliver revenue only to be put in a worse situation."

The attorney general's office says it's received more than 100 complaints from farmers about Renewable Energy. Many of those complaints are cited in her motion for a temporary restraining order.

The lawsuit filed last month alleges the company and owner Shawn Dooling sold farmers faulty windmills using federal stimulus money, then failed to deliver or built turbines that didn't work properly.

More than 40 farmers spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on turbines bought from Renewable Energy in Excelsior, including Mark Schroeder.

"I love putting crops in and watching stuff grow," Schroeder told FOX 9 News.

For 50 years, the farm in Eglin has been in the Schroeder family. In 2010, Schroeder thought he was making an investment in the farm's future by buying a wind turbine -- but his investment literally blew up last year.

"The thing was just spinning like crazy. It was out of control," he recalled.

Schroeder explained that he looked up and knew he had to get back. 

"I'm getting the heck out of here. This thing is coming down," he said.

Next he knew, a 24-foot, 500-pound blade went flying 300 feet off the 160-foot tower. Schroeder said the company took down the rest of the turbine and promised to replace it. A year later, it still hasn't been done.

"I'm losing money every day because there is no revenue coming in and I still have to make my loan payment," Schroeder told FOX 9 News.

He isn't the only one. Wayne Johnson can kneel down on the platform that should hold his $135,000 turbine because he's still waiting for it.

Renewable Energy attorney Thomas Pursell told the Star Tribune that he's studying the attorney general's motion and will respond later. FOX 9 News attempted to contact owner Shawn Dooling, but he did not return calls for comment.

A hearing on the issue is set for next Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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