PORTSMOUTH – The latest ailment to stop Portsmouth’s wind turbine is one that will sound familiar to most motorists in cold weather.
The batteries are dead.
The turbine had been working fine after recent repairs but shut down abruptly on Sunday, Jan. 23, at 4 a.m. when a power outage hit that part of Portsmouth.
After the power goes out, the turbine must be re-started manually, Assistant Town Planner Gary Crosby said, and that needs to happen within about three hours or the batteries will drain.
When he tried to start it, the batteries had indeed drained. Lumus, the Massachusetts firm hired by Portsmouth to provide maintenance for the turbine, tried to recharge the batteries but was not successful.
“They’d get very close but not quite there,” Mr. Crosby said. Not helping was the fact that the weather that Sunday and Monday was “brutally cold,” not the best conditions to attempt bringing batteries back to life.
The decision was then made to replace the year-and-a-half old batteries. Replacements were found and will be installed this Wednesday and Thursday.
“It drives me crazy to see it stopped but that’s where we are,” he said.
Mr. Crosby said the turbine has 30 of the 12-volt batteries (each about the size of a motorcycle battery) that are connected in series up in the turbine’s nacelle.
When they arrive they won’t have to be lugged up the vertical ladder to the nacelle.
“Fortunately not,” Mr. Crosby said. Instead they will be hoisted up the outside of the tower by a block and tackle-type system.
“They say the batteries probably needed replacing anyway – it’s just a shame that we have to lose days like this.”
Mr. Crosby said he has heard speculation that the turbine must be shut down in cold weather or in snow but said that is not the case.
It was just a matter of the power going out right at a bad time, right before a cold snap, he said.
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