Are DyoCore and its SolAir turbine a clever brand of cleantech flimflam? The company denies the charge, but the staff at the California Energy Commission thinks so. It has filed a complaint against DyoCore, alleging the company violated the intent of the state’s renewable energy rebate program by rating the SolAir’s performance “7.5 times greater than theoretically possible.” Doing so, the commission staff said, made DyoCore’s small wind-power system eligible for rebates that could cover its entire installation cost.
The move isn’t entirely surprising. The Energy Commission had already suspended the state’s Emerging Renewables Program – which grants rebates based on rated output to consumers who install small distributed-generating systems – in March this year, after more than 1,000 rebate reservations for systems using the DyoCore turbine flooded into its offices. Commission staff had noted that the rebates were so generous the program was “essentially providing free DyoCore turbines to end-use consumers,” and that many of the proposed sites for the turbines were “in locations with poor wind resources.”
Then came the Greentech Media article. On March 15, the website quoted experts saying that DyoCore’s output claims were impossible for a wind turbine of the SolAir’s size. According to the complaint, that article led commission staff to ask the consulting firm KEMA to take a closer look at Dyocore’s claim that its turbine generated 1.6 kilowatts in 18 mph winds. At the rebate rate of $3 per watt, that added up to a rebate of $4,800 per turbine – for a turbine that cost $1,800. KEMA said, uh, no, not possible.
So how much damage has DyoCore reportedly done with its alleged fraud? The complaint alleges 33 systems using DyoCore turbines have been installed and $515,385 in rebates paid. Another 249 rebate reservations for systems using DyoCore turbines – rebates totaling $6,393,544 – were approved but have not been paid. Pending are yet another 1,069 applications, which if approved would cost California $31,220,976.
The complaint, which is now on the desk of commission counsel Michael Levy, includes a request that “all action necessary be taken to recover the rebate funds … and, if appropriate, that this matter be referred to the Attorney General for investigation and prosecution.” DyoCore, meanwhile, wrote on its website that the complaint was “misleading and false.” The company said it wanted a “formal hearing and to be allowed to present facts that would clarify that DyoCore both met the requirements of the intended program and represented the program with the highest of intentions, integrity and honorably.”