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6 investigates follow-up: wind turbines worth the cost?

CORPUS CHRISTI – We have a 6 News investigation follow up on four wind turbines the city installed on the bayfront that don’t really power anything. As we’ve reported, the turbines, which cost nearly half a million dollars to build, were part of a bayfront improvement plan in the 2004 Bond Election.

Today, we learned the city council members at the time knew the turbines wouldn’t produce much power. So we wanted to know why the city spent so much money on them.

We tried to ask City Manager Ron Olson about the turbines, but he told us he couldn’t comment because he wasn’t city manager at the time.

So we asked Mayor Joe Adame if the turbines were really worth the cost.

“I think they do supply an image to the community that we are eco-friendly,” Adame says.

But if the turbines are there just for their image, are they really worth nearly half a million dollars?

Mayor-Elect Nelda Martinez was part of the effort to build these turbines. She told us they haven’t lived up to the energy expectations the council had for them. So we asked her if they were really worth it.

She said they were part of the package that voters voted for back in the 2004 Bond Election.

But even though voters did vote for that project, it included some options that would be at the city council’s discretion. The wind turbines were one of those options.

So we talked with one of the original engineers from the project, Kevin Stowers.

He told us the turbines are hooked up to the electrical grid, but barely produce enough energy to power a small house.

What’s more, he told us the council knew that the energy output would be minimal.

“Staff’s original recommendation was not to award the turbines. That was an additive alternate,” Stowers says.

He says the goal of the turbines was really more about the look than really producing a meaningful amount of energy.

So the question is are then nearly half a million dollars spent to build these turbines worth it if the energy being outputed can barely power a small house?