BAY CITY – Why isn’t that wind turbine at the state Department of Environmental Quality office in Bay City spinning?
It’s been months since the turbine has generated any electricity, and officials are unsure when it could start up again.
According to Kevin King, chief of field operations and facilities section for all DEQ offices across the state, the turbine may have a gear box failure. The DEQ hired the turbine’s original manufacturer to climb the tower and take a peek to see what was wrong, but that proved to be unsuccessful.
“When you’re 120 feet up in the air and only have 6-inches of workspace, you can’t quite tell everything that’s going on,” said King.
The blades were then secured with rope so they wouldn’t spin and potentially contribute to more damage, said King.
Now the DEQ is working to bring down the turbine and have it re-commissioned.
The gearbox is one of the more important components in a wind turbine, according to a report from Wind Mission. It’s placed between the main shaft and the generator, and is tasked to increase the slow rotational speed of the rotor blades to the genreator rotation speed of 1000 or 1500 revolutions per minute.
In February 2010, some DEQ employees were annoyed by the flicker effect from the turbine. Frosted skylights on top of the building give off great natural light, but when the sun shines just right, shadows were created from the turbine blades, creating a strobe-like effect inside.
New blinds to cover the skylights during the flicker were supposed to be installed in the summer of 2010, but have yet to appear.
“The blinds are still on order,” said King.
Software, however, has been acquired by the DEQ that allows employees in the building to shut down the turbine at the touch of a button.
This past week, Jack Anderson, of Bay City, wrote a letter to the editor wondering why the turbine wasn’t working. Calls were put into the DEQ last week to help supplement an article on a proposed wind farm in Bay, Saginaw and Tuscola counties.
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