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Wind turbine at Bay City DEQ office could be repaired in next few months

BAY CITY – The wind turbine at the Department of Environmental Quality’s Saginaw Bay District Office could spin again, but only if costs for the repair fit the department’s budget.

The DEQ wants to dismantle the broken turbine and transport it to Kalamazoo Valley Community College, where the college’s Wind Turbine Technician Academy plans to access the damage. The college’s program, which started in 2009, has the same turbine on campus that they use for instruction.

“Kalamazoo Valley Community College will open it up and document what they see and the extent of the damage,” said Kevin King, chief of field operations and facilities section for the DEQ. “That work with KVCC is at no cost to the taxpayer.”

Installed in September 2009 by Entegrity Wind Systems, the turbine stopped spinning in front of the DEQ’s Bay City site, 401 Ketchum, earlier this year. Entegrity Wind Systems was declared bankrupt by a Canadian judge in October 2009, according to reports.

“We think it’s a great opportunity to help out a state-funded organization,” said Tom Sutton, associate director of KVCC’s Wind Energy Center.

The DEQ is working to award a contract to disassemble the turbine and transport it to KVCC, King said. The DEQ planned to award the contract last week, King said, but wanted to review the specific processes the vendors plan to take in deconstructing the turbine.

The process for disassembling the turbine starts with disconnecting the blades and then disconnecting the turbine. Both the turbine and blades are then lowered and loaded onto a truck for transportation.

The department tried to determine the reason the turbine stopped spinning in September, but were unable to come up with a solution.

The DEQ sought out bids earlier this year for companies to repair the turbine, with the low bid of $72,000 coming from Colorado-based Ethos Distributed Energy.

King said he doesn’t know exactly how long KVCC plans to look at the turbine but said they are ready to get started.

Sutton said KVCC doesn’t normally work on turbine’s this small, but the college does have the same model, Entegrity EW 50, on campus that the program maintains.

“We are familiar with the machine, having our own here,” Sutton said.

The issue then comes down to cost, King said, and replacement parts must be within the department’s budget.

“If the cost is within what we hope it to be, we will probably ask the vendor to rebuild the turbine,” King said.

There is no definite time frame for a rebuild, but King said having the turbine up and running by March is a “good educated guess.”