Buying into a Texas wind farm sounds like a good idea. Texas investors have dumped more than $7 billion into the technology and the state's wind farms generate more than 12,000 megawatts of electricity per year. Texas has the highest wind power capacity in the country, so it makes sense that Dallas-area investors would want to get in on the action.
"A lot of people embrace big stuff in Texas," David Spalding CEO of Wind Plus told Renewable Energy World in 2009. "You can’t do what we do in other parts of the country — build 400 MW wind farms."
Trouble is, Spalding didn't build them either; he just said he did and reaped a ton of money from investors.
The Colleyville man was sentenced to federal prison Tuesday for bilking 97 investors from 11 states out of $3.7 million over the course of nine years. Spalding recruited investment in Wind Plus and Baseload Energy, two companies he'd created that he said were building wind power infrastructure. That was just so much hot air (sorry).
“He turned deals down because he thought he would find a deeper pocket who would give him more money,” said Don Delaney, an investor Spalding bilked out of more than $225,000 told the Fort Worth Star Telegram in 2013, shortly after Spalding was arrested. “He knew the game, and he knew the technology. He talked the talk, but he didn’t walk the walk. He got too deep into it. He had a colossal ego.”
Spalding purchased real estate — not the kind used for wind farms — and took trips. When investors pressed Spalding about actually doing something having to do with wind farms with their money, he demurred that cash was tight. Even after Wind Plus went bankrupt in 2009, Spalding lied about the company's financial status and continued to solicit investment on its behalf until 2011. Investors, initially told they'd be paid back 60 days after making their investments, never saw any returns.
Spalding, who's been out on bond since being convicted by a jury last summer, was sentenced to 15 years by U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn.