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Department of Environmental Quality officials hoping to make decision on Bay City wind turbine before May

BAY CITY, MI – It’s been more than a year since the wind turbine at the Department of Environmental Quality’s Bay City office was operational.

With the help of the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Wind Turbine Technician Academy, DEQ officials now know the cause of the breakdown.

It’s the solution they are still working on.

Kevin King, chief of field operations facilities for the DEQ, said KVCC found the cause of the turbine malfunction. He said a cast iron disc in the turbine shattered in three places, causing grinding in the turbine and forcing the machine to stop

In January, the department contracted Kent City’s Kent Power to disassemble the tower on the DEQ’s property, 401 Ketchum St., and transport it to Kalamazoo, where the school has assessed the damage. In addition to their wind turbine program, KVCC has the same model, Entegrity EW 50, on campus.

King said the DEQ held a meeting a few weeks ago to determine the next course of action, and laid out a few options the DEQ is considering.

King said the department repairing the machine, get a new turbine or scrap the tower. King said the department is also considering replacing the broken part with a stronger material, like steel.

There are other options the DNR could explore as well, like the possibility of converting the structure into a cell phone tower.

The department wants to make a decision before the end of April.

“We know this decision has to be made quickly,” King said.

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.

King declined to say how much the department is budgeting for the repairs, but the DEQ’s contract with Kent Power to dismantle the tower was $19,475.

King said if a decision is made by the end of April, work to repair or replace the turbine could start in May.