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Portsmouth wind turbine remains stopped while officials wait for batteries

The Portsmouth wind turbine generator has not turned since a power outage occurred on Jan. 23 and now another winter storm might delay its production further.

On Jan. 23, a power outage caused the Portsmouth wind turbine to stop spinning. Following the outage, sub-zero temperatures caused a delay for the batteries to recharge, according to town officials.

When a power outage occurs, the turbine is automatically taken off the “grid” or electrical circuit as a safety precaution. The turbine’s power is then run by batteries.

However, this time, the town needs to replace 30 batteries to restart the turbine. The shipment of those batteries has been delayed by stormy weather, a common theme this winter.

“Yes, we are still waiting for batteries,” wrote Gary Crosby, assistant town planner, in an e-mail. “Latest we heard is they will be available Friday (today) and we are awaiting confirmation from the contractor that they will be down on Saturday to install them.”

However, another winter storm expected on Saturday might delay work once again.

The turbine has had a series of unexpected failures this winter. The following is a time line of the turbine’s breakdowns this winter.

Portsmouth Wind Turbine Troubles and Triumphs

Dec. 7—The up tower control panel’s LED screen was replaced and the turbine was ready to run again. However, the turbine’s slip ring fails and the turbine ceases to spin.

Dec. 16—A blizzard in Europe delays the slip ring parts from being shipped to the United States.

Dec. 26-27—The December blizzard on the east coast delays shipment of slip ring once more.

Dec. 28—The slip ring is installed and the turbine is ready for operation. However, the turbine’s Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) fails. The PLC is a digital computer and is the “brains” for the turbine. The module is ordered and shipped from Austria.

Jan. 9—After nearly a month of being shutdown, the turbine begins spinning on this day.

Jan. 23—A power outage causes the wind turbine to go “off the grid” and stop spinning. Freezing temperatures delay the batteries to recharge, requiring them to be replaced.

Jan. 28—Town officials wait for batteries to be delivered from Boston.

Feb. 4—Portsmouth wind turbine continues to be at standstill as officials wait for batteries to be delivered. However, another snowstorm could delay its shipment once more.