Going Green wastes green in a St. Charles County community

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by Chris Nagus

KMOV.com

Posted on February 8, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 8 at 12:13 PM

(Is This Why We're Broke?) -- It is trendy to Go Green, but at what point does going green become a big rip off for taxpayers.

The energy saving project in St. Charles County has been nothing but a debacle and it's not over yet - leading us to ask is this why we're broke. 
 
Dardenne Prairie Mayor Pam Fogarty is dealing with a solar power fiasco.
A project that was supposed to provide energy savings has been nothing but a financial drain.
She tells News 4 it is the biggest waste of money she has seen since her term as mayor began in 2003.
Also she confirms the city never saw any energy savings from the solar power program.
 
Dardenne Prairie paid Solaire $160,000 to purchase tubes, arrays, and racks for the roof.
But according to an email obtained by News 4, former city manager Brad Turvey expressed concerns over the project, wondering if it would generate real savings.
In that email sent to the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen, Turvey projected the total cost of the solar system at more than $320,000 and predicted it would take 44 years to see the payback, not the 6 years the city was promised.
 
Then city officials tell us things started to unwind with the man who sold the city the solar panel system: Timothy Huff.
 
This is the same man listed on Forbes.com as one of the worst CEO screw ups of 2010.
Huff is in federal prison for securities fraud and defrauding the IRS in a separate business venture.
“When all that started coming up that's when we started getting concerned about the project” Mayor Fogarty told us.
 
The city scrapped the deal and things just kept getting worse for the taxpayers.
Dardenne Prairie did find a buyer for some of those costly tubes but there's a catch.
The city sold the tubes for around $16,000 but it cost the city around $16,000 to have the racks removed from the roof.
 
Some of the tubes are still boxed up in storage waiting for a buyer and so is some of the expensive equipment that's already been installed.
But between consulting fees and all that wasted time and equipment this was a green project that left the city in the red.
 
Tim Huff is serving his sentence in Leavenworth, Kansas and declined News 4’s request for an on camera interview.
Mayor Fogarty says they are exploring legal options but as for now that $160,000 is gone and the remnants of a very costly solar project are sitting in a barn rented by the city.

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