PORTSMOUTH – It blew a steady 20 m.p.h. from the west Friday but the blades on Portsmouth’s wind turbine didn’t budge.
“Yes,” replied Gary Crosby, Portsmouth’s town planner, when asked whether the turbine is broken. “We’re going through a bit of a rough patch but hope to have it resolved soon.”
The problem seems to be a relay switch which has been repeatedly switching off for reasons unknown, said Mr. Crosby who has overseen the town’s wind turbine project.
“For awhile I was able to go over there myself and physically switch it back on,” he said, but as of the middle of last week, even that didn’t work. “Now I can’t reset it at all,” he said Friday.
The situation is complicated by the bankruptcy earlier this year of AAER, the Canadian firm that supplied the wind turbine to Portsmouth and provided the warranty protection.
When AAER was still afloat, technicians there could monitor the turbine remotely and make any needed adjustments, usually without even visiting the site.
But Mr. Crosby said those duties have temporarily fallen to him while the new service provider, Lumus Construction of Woburn, Mass., gets up to speed. The Town Council voted September 15 to hire Lumus at an annual rate of $33,000 with additional fees for extra work
But before it can work on the turbine, Lumus must first be licensed by Wind Tech International, the company that built the turbine. Mr. Crosby said that that process is under way but he’s not sure when it will be done.
That left Mr. Crosby to run over to the turbine every time it shut down, which had been happening as frequently as every six to eight hours.
“I can see it from my house, between a couple of trees and I was going over constantly days, weekends, holidays.” He could hit the reset buttons from within the control room at the base of the tower – but as of Friday that process no longer worked.
“It’s wearing on me to lose days with good breezes. I would love to see it turning … But overall this has been a very good machine, very reliable,” Mr. Crosby said. In fact, as recently as the 18th of October, the turbine’s output was “22 percent ahead of monthly projections so we have a cushion.”
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