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Windmill gear box ready to be shipped

Princeton Municipal Light Department officials are cautiously optimistic that the replacement gear box for the south turbine at the wind farm off Westminster Road will soon be on its way from Germany.

“It’s packaged and ready to go,” PMLD Manager Brian Allen said at the March 15 meeting of the Board of Light Commissioners.

Hallamore Crane is on standby and the weather is cooperating, Allen said. Once the arrival date for the gear box and crane has been set, Allen said he will ask the highway department to smooth the roadway. “I’m not scheduling the crane until the gear box is cleared at the pier,” Allen said, noting that the cost of the crane is $9,000 a day.

It will take about four weeks to ship the gear box.

“Like everything else in this project, it is dependent on someone else,” Allen said. “It’s frustrating.”

The old gear box will be shipped back to Germany, where it will be examined to see why it failed. It weighs 35 tons and the initial two-year warranty has run out, according to Allen.

The two 1.5-megawatt turbines on 215- foot towers were installed in October 2009 and became fully operational in January 2010. The gear box failed in August 2011. The cost to install the windmills was about $7.3 million, and the turbines have a life expectancy of 20 to 25 years.

According to Allen, PMLD was a third party beneficiary to the warranty on the gear box. Windmill supplier Furhlaender has agreed to match the town’s $100,000 to replace the gear box, and who pays the remainder of the $400,000 cost will be determined once the old gear box is examined in Germany, according to Allen.

Allen said a claim has been filed with Traveler’s Insurance regarding the equipment failure and for loss of revenue because of the wind turbine being off line. There are exclusions, he added. The insurer won’t act until the cause for the gear box failure is determined, according to Allen.