A significant portion of the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority’s multimillion dollar wind turbine was heavily damaged during superstorm Sandy, according to BRSA Executive Director Robert Fischer.
The turbine’s nacelle – which contains vital components such as the generator and gearbox – was likely lost during massive flooding at the Port of Newark on Oct. 29.
“It’s been damaged to the point where there is a likelihood it will have to be returned to General Electric,” Fischer said in a March 25 interview, referring to the turbine’s manufacturer. “The feeling is it will likely have to be replaced.”
Along with the nacelle, which Fischer estimated could cost as much as $1 million to replace, Sandy wrought damages on one of the turbine’s blades and a portion of the upper tower.
At BRSA headquarters in Union Beach, the storm also damaged some components of the turbine’s base, which was installed in September 2010 before public resistance and multiple legal challenges put the 380-foot turbine project on hold.
Fischer said it is possible that the less significant damages can be repaired, but the authority will have to wait on a full analysis before providing specific details.
When asked if Conti Corp., the company contracted by BRSA to transport, store and assemble the turbine, has insurance on the damaged turbine components, Fischer said he did not know.
“We have a meeting with them on the fourth of April,” he said.
BRSA attorney James Gorman, who was appointed by its board of commissioners in February, said on March 22 he is reviewing the contracts with Conti, but could not provide a definite answer either.
“I just don’t know.”
Neither Fischer nor Gorman were aware if the storage facility – Harbor Freight Transport Corp., Port Street – has any liability for the damages. Calls to the company were not returned.
Fischer said the turbine components are still being stored at the facility, and a payment has not been issued to the storage company on behalf of BRSA in a number of months. The total bill will likely have to be paid eventually, he added, though he wasn’t sure of the total.
“That will run through the contractor,” he said, referring to Conti.
Multiple calls to Conti were not returned.
The turbine project is funded through low-interest loans from the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program (NJEIFP) and a federal grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). In 2008, when BRSA first proposed the turbine, the authority received $7.7 million through NJEIFP, and $5.9 million of that sum was used on the turbine, Fischer said last year. The remaining $1.8 million was used for sewage service improvements.
The authority has been trying to build the turbine on its Oak Street property since 2008 as part of a wind-to-energy project that BRSA officials say will provide nearly half of the plant’s necessary energy. Area residents and Union Beach officials have expressed concern with the project, saying it would negatively affect property values and produce visual and sound disturbances.
BRSA, a joint sewerage utility funded by user fees that each participating municipality collects from residential and commercial ratepayers, serves Hazlet, Holmdel, Keyport, Keansburg, Aberdeen, Union Beach and parts of Marlboro.
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