Lynn’s first major experience with clean and renewable energy hit another snag last month when the Water and Sewer Commission’s 190-foot wind turbine on Commercial Street Extension, operating only since October, broke and its 75-foot blades have been idle since.
Repairs to the turbine, which Water and Sewer Commission Operations Director Robert Tina estimates will produce about 1/5th of the plant’s annual electricity and save ratepayers about $100,000 a year, were scheduled to begin today depending on delivery of parts from Colorado.
The downside of wind power is that we can’t always depend on the wind, and in many areas of the country where wind turbines and wind farms have sprouted there are complaints about the size and noise of the turbines, threat to birds and potentially adverse health effects for those in close proximity, posed by constant flickering sunlight.
But the Lynn turbine is perfectly located on Water and Sewer property that is blocks from homes and in an area where existing noise on the Lynnway is louder than any noise generated by the turbine (which for the past month has been none). Some might even say the turbine has added character to the city’s coastal skyline, easily glimpsed looking west from the Nahant Causeway.
Still, the experiment has been plagued with problems from the start, from delivery delays and then assembly delays after a Saugus firm contracted to erect it last summer did not deliver on the service. And now comes the cracked rotor in the turbine’s generator box, believed to have occurred during tests last month.
The problem with Lynn’s sole wind turbine makes you wonder about challenges that may lie ahead for the nation’s first-proposed offshore wind farm, Cape Wind, if the project – already approved and permitted by federal and state agencies but the focus of legal challenges – comes to fruition.
Cape Wind would have 130 turbines and its developer estimates the project will reduce global warming greenhouse gas emissions by 734,000 tons per year and replace 113 million gallons of oil-generated energy with clean and renewable energy per year.
If that turns out to be the case and does not result in a spike of electricity bills for consumers, it would be great. But just the same, it may be wise for the Cape Wind developer – and the Lynn Water and Sewer Commission – to stock a hefty supply of generator-box replacement parts.
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