According to documents filed in Minnesota courts last week, a renewable energy company in Minnesota told farmers that wind turbines would pay for themselves in a few months or years through a combination of grants and energy credits. However, farmers who purchased the systems at a minimum price of $119,000 quickly found out that their money was difficult to come by—because Renewable Energy SD failed to actually provide the systems farmers had bought.
While in some cases the Minnesota Attorney General's office says that Renewable Energy SD provided no wind turbine whatsoever to the farmers who had bought them in the hopes of generating energy and making some money on the side with their farmland, in other cases they didn't help farmers to achieve the revenue projections they claimed were realistic when erecting a wind turbine.
The Minnesota AG filed for an emergency restraining order against Renewable Energy SD, saying that they should no longer be allowed to sell their wind turbine systems until complaints alleging that their systems were improperly maintained and installed are investigated.
Renewable Energy SD, which has a D- rating on the Better Business Bureau website after repeated complaints against the company, is accused of having scammed up to 150 customers who had purchased the six-figure wind turbine systems.
The state of Minnesota, particularly in its western half, is considered especially fertile territory for wind energy generation. Renewable Energy SD told farmers and others that putting a wind turbine on their property would generate relatively fast returns. According to documents obtained by the Attorney General's office, farmers were told that 30 percent of the cost of the windmills would be borne by tax credits, while the remaining 70 percent could be gotten by generating energy and selling it back to the energy companies for $700 to $1300 every month. However, without fully functioning wind turbines, farmers say they were unable to realize anything close to the rate of return that they had been promised by Renewable Energy SD.
Four different individual farmers had filed individual lawsuits against Renewable Energy SD before the complaint was picked up by the Minnesota Attorney General. According to the AG, Renewable Energy SD has also failed to renew its certificate of authority, meaning that any business it has transacted since August of 2012 has been without correct authorization from the state of Minnesota.