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An Ill Wind Blows the DNC No Good

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The Rocky Mountain News's "Bet made on carbon offsets" article on Saturday started with this: "Thanks to a windmill that tolls day and night producing clean electricity, the tiny eastern plains outpost of Wray has landed in the center of the fast-moving, carbon-offset world."

When he read that, Brad Jones, our Best of Denver 2008 blogger, threw a stick in the story's spokes with a piece on his facethestate.com. In a nutshell: the windmill doesn't work.

Legislators and community activists in the area had been complaining about the problems for some time; the weekly paper in Wray printed a piece on their concerns last Thursday. Jones had heard some of the same tips, and started looking into them about a week ago. He even interviewed Ron Howard, superintendent of the Wray School District, whose rosy quote ends the News's piece: "In tough times, we'll take all the money we can get. But this is a lot more than just a money thing for us."

Not just a money thing?

That's good, because without the windmills working, there's no energy to sell for those carbon offset credits. While Howard acknowledged to Jones that the company pushing the turbine project, Vermont-based NativeEnergy, has had to pay penalty fees to the school district because of the problems, he declined to share the amount of those penalties -- or much of anything else -- with Jones.

So Jones filed a slew of open-records requests -- "basically asking for anything with the word 'wind,'" he says -- with the superintendent's office. He hopes to collect those documents today, after a two-and-a-half hour drive out to that tiny eastern plains outpost, where the windmill is likely standing still.

Anyone waiting for updates can pass the time by checking out this facethestate piece, complete with video , of Andrea Robinson, the Democratic National Convention Committee's "Director of Sustainability & Greening," on her visit to the Wray project. -- Patricia Calhoun

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