SACO – The windmill at the Amtrak train station in Saco, which hasn’t been spinning in recent months, will undergo minor repairs and maintenance. Howard Carter, director of the city’s water resource recovery division, said the windmill was recently restarted and a minor oil leak was discovered May 13.
“We don’t know how long it will take (to fix), or how serious it is,” Carter said.
The windmill stopped spinning some time in March. Carter said the city does not have instant electronic monitoring of its electrical output, as it did when the windmill initially became operational. It is difficult to know if there are problems unless people notice it is not working and notify city officials. Consequently, Carter said he is not sure exactly when the turning ceased, but his staff discovered that it wasn’t working when they went to the site to perform regularly scheduled maintenance.
Larkin Enterprises, based in Lincoln, will do the repair work some time next week.
Central Maine Power credits the city monthly for any electricity it generates that doesn’t get used by the station. Since 2008, when the windmill was first installed, the amount of energy it outputs into the electricity grid varies greatly, resulting in monthly credits from $1 to $250. In the six-month period from August 2012 to January 2013, the city received a total combined credit of $76.53 for electricity generated by the windmill. In that same period, the total amount billed to the city for the Amtrak station’s electricity usage was $9,155.50.
Amy Oliver, administrative assistant of the public works department, said the city does not track the total kilowatts produced by the windmill. Data on how much energy the windmill generates that is used by the station itself – and not outputted into the grid – was not available.
Carter said the data is not available because the company that monitored the windmill’s kilowatt production discontinued the service after Entegrity Wind Systems, the company that installed the mill, went bankrupt and stopped paying them. Carter said the city did not want to spend thousands of dollars to install a system to monitor the mill’s energy production.
Mayor Mark Johnston, who previously donated $15,000 of his own funds toward the windmill’s maintenance, said the windmill is an icon and represents Saco’s commitment to a “greener vision.”
“There are always going to be problems with energy,” Johnston said. “I was disappointed in an oil leak in my car. Once I bought a brand new car, it had less than 10,000 miles and the engine seized up. Does that mean I’m going to stop buying Audis now? No.”
Johnston said the windmill is already paid for, that its maintenance does not currently come from taxpayer dollars and he was glad that the necessary repairs were being scheduled for it.
“We want it to spin,” Johnston said.
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