PRINCETON – Municipal Light Department Manager Jonathan Fitch estimates it will cost approximately $10,000 to repair damage done to the wind towers last week.
On Friday Sept. 3, PMLD staff visited the wind site and heard a louder noise coming from the north turbine. As the blade passed by the tower it was creating more noise, said Fitch.
“We stopped the turbine and inspected the wind blades with binoculars. We could see a small hole or indent almost at the end of one of the blades,” he said.
The blade tip is moving at 200 miles per hour while the blades are turning at 17 revolutions per minutes, so anything hitting it will cause damage, he added. Fitch said they had inspected the turbines a few days before that and did not hear that noise.
“I didn’t dare run it until I checked with the experts,” he said.
Last week, PMLD foreman Brian Alan and lineman Frank Alves went up in a 120-foot rented lift to inspect the damage to the blade and see whether the fiberglass was broken. What they found was a golf ball size indentation and chip in the paint on the blade. According to Fitch, there is a plastic film over the fiberglass with an epoxy paint coating that was chipped.
“Brian and Frank cut the flapping piece back, sanded it down and coated the edge with a marine silicone. The manufacturer is sending their technician here in two weeks,” said Fitch. “Each time we rent the aerial lift, it costs $1,000 and it will cost about $4,000 to get a technician to come out and make the necessary repairs.”
Fitch and the crew will learn while the technician is there how to repair the blades so they won’t have to call the manufacturer in the future.
Graffiti on south tower
Fitch and light commissioner Brad Hubbard arrived at the roadway to the wind site a few days later on Sept. 5 and discovered that the gate chain and lock were broken.
“We found a large boulder all chewed up which we believe was used to break open the lock,” said Fitch “We called the police and drove to the site. The base of the south tower was covered with graffiti. We waited for the police who took several photographs of the damage.”
Fitch said they know the property was defaced Saturday night because they had worked on the windmills on Saturday, and when they left around noon, there was no graffiti. “Brian and I were the last to leave the site on Saturday and we locked the gate.” The tower was sprayed with blue and red paint.
The graffiti included swear words, sexual images, and the message, “Do good as long as you don’t have to do anything.”
Fitch said that only one cap to a spray paint can and a broken beer bottle were found at the scene. The cap was given to police for possible fingerprinting.
“It’s obvious that whoever was here picked up after themselves, because we didn’t find any paint cans,” said Fitch. “We do have cameras on site and we’re reviewing those.”
Because so many families come to the area of the towers, Fitch and members of the PMLD staff immediately cleaned up the tower.
By 2 p.m. it was all clean.
“We’re going to expand the number of cameras on site and take other precautions to ensure the security. It’s the first time we’ve ever had a break in at the site and this will easily cost $10,000,” Fitch said.
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