After just four months of functionality, Hanover’s turbine again sits motionless on Route 53.
More than two years after the $790,000 project was slated for completion, Town Manager Troy Clarkson said the town is owed more than $1 million in liquidated damages from the contractor, Lumus. It is unlikely, however, that taxpayers will see much of a return on those damages.
“The proposed finish date for the project in the contract has long since passed and the provision for liquidated damages to the town is $1,000 per day,” Clarkson said. “This is pretty standard, but it is difficult to collect on liquidated damages.”
The turbine was contracted to be operational by February 2012.
Plagued by problems since its construction, the turbine stopped turning in March after problems with the tip brakes cropped up once again.
“The wind turbine needs the brakes so it won’t spin out of control,” said Victor Diniak, Department of public works director.
From November through March the turbine was more or less fully functional, according to Diniak. Then the brakes deployed incorrectly one day.
“They’re machines and machines break,” Diniak said. “Not only do machines break, but turbines are a couple of hundred feet up in the air, so they are a little more difficult to repair.”
The turbine’s operation was initially delayed for a similar problem with its braking system, which was resolved. It was later delayed when a series of tests showed its hydraulic temperature was getting too high.
Once operational, the turbine should generate about $50,000 per year in electricity, which will offset a portion of the water treatment plant’s $120,000 per year bill.
“We wanted to get it right, rather than get it done,” Clarkson said. “It has taken a lot more time, but ultimately it will be in the best interest of the taxpayers.”
According to Clarkson, the insurance company has covered the costs of all repairs to the turbine outside of the initial $790,000 expenditure. Although the town wanted to fire Wilmington-based Lumus, after numerous mechanical issues, Clarkson said the decision to work alongside Lumus and the town’s insurance company, Hanover Insurance, has saved taxpayers from the burden of paying for repairs.
Clarkson said the town plans to meet with Lumus and Hanover Insurance to settle to the amount of money owed to the town due to inoperability.
Taxpayers approved an initial $500,000 to erect a turbine that would offset the electricity costs at the town’s Pond Street water treatment plant at Town Meeting in 2008. An additional $500,000 was allocated in 2009 after the size of the turbine was increased.
Hanover is working with Aeronautica Windpower, a Plymouth-based consulting firm, to restore the turbine.
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