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Repairs to wind turbine under way, says manager

CONNEAUT – A wind turbine knocked out of service by a lightning bolt this past summer should cranking out electricity again by the end of the year, said City Manager Timothy Eggleston.

Repairs began Monday on the 400-kilowatt turbine that provides some of the electricity used at the city’s waste water treatment plant, Eggleston said. Completion depends on the weather, but the turbine should be spinning sometime this month, he said.

“Within the next two or three weeks it will be operational,” Eggleston said in an e-mail message.

A blade on the big generator was damaged when struck by lightning in late August. The bolt blasted away some of the material that coats the wooden blade, and also splintered its tip. The turbine was shut down after sections of the chunks fell away as the blade was spinning.

On Tuesday, it was evident the damaged part of the blade had been stripped away, exposing a lengthy section of the blade’s interior.

The turbine was built by NexGen Energy of Boulder, Colo., and became operational in early 2010. It provides about 20 percent of the electricity needed by the treatment plant. Convention power hookups are filling the void until the turbine becomes operational.

A larger version of the machine was built by NexGen at the Conneaut Middle School. It has been idled for months because of a hydraulic problem. The school turbine still is not operational, and NexGen has not provided a repair timetable, Schools Superintendent Kent Houston said Tuesday.

The turbines were installed at no cost to the city and school district, although both entities have agreed to buy power the generators create for 10 years. They also paid a $9,500 good-faith fee that will be reimbursed a few years into the contract.