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MPs demand fix for stalled turbines outside prisons

A New Brunswick Liberal MP and a Conservative Alberta MP are both demanding the federal government figure out what is preventing wind turbines outside of two federal prisons from functioning properly.

The Correctional Service of Canada has experimented with using wind turbines to generate electricity for two penitentiaries.

But the units outside of the Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick and Drumheller Institution in Alberta have not functioned properly since they were installed.

The federal government cannot say when the Dorchester turbine first failed or how often the $2.5-million turbine has worked since it was installed in 2009.

Beausejour Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc said it is becoming clear the federal government has fumbled the entire wind turbine program.

“It seems to me the government botched the procurement process if they spend over $2 million on a wind turbine that doesn’t work,” he said.

Recent repairs at Dorchester have been performed by an independent contractor.

The turbine has racked up about $60,000 in repairs, according to the federal government.

In Drumheller, a Canadian consultant has been called to look into the situation.

The Liberal MP said the federal government has to find a solution to the turbine problems.

“The government has an obligation to get these things to work. They’ve spent millions of taxpayers’ dollars and now they have egg on their face,” LeBlanc said.

“Their normal pattern is to deny, duck and weave and pretend it doesn’t exist. They’re having trouble because this thing sort of marks the skyline of that valley.”

In Drumheller, residents have been questioning why the turbine at the prison there barely works.

Crowfoot Conservative MP Kevin Sorenson said he also wants to see the turbine in his riding fixed.

“We don’t want a windmill standing up there sitting still year after year,” Sorenson said.

“So if it can be done in a cost effective way let’s get it turning and if we can’t let’s get it out.”

The federal department purchased the wind turbine in 2008 from Fuhrlaender, a German company. The German company was responsible for the turbine, while its controls were supplied from a U.S.-based company.

In a letter to Sorensen last year, the Correctional Service of Canada said the wind turbine has been stalled because of technical difficulties relating to the batteries.

The problems escalated when Lorax (USA), which had the contract for the turbine, dissolved before the generator was operating.