SCITUATE – As the 131-foot-long blades of the wind turbine on the Driftway sit motionless, an executive of Scituate Wind LLC said the company has lost more than $45,000 since the machine stopped working on June 26.
The 390-foot-tall turbine owned by Scituate Wind LLC – a partnership between Palmer Capital Corp. and Solaya Energy – has been offline for 34 consecutive days due to a software problem.
Gordon Deane, president of Palmer Capital Corp., said the down time comes at the tune of about $1,380 per day, or $46,920 total as of today.
“What the operator has been doing is working overnight because they’re talking to people in Beijing to get things fixed,” Deane said Tuesday. “They’ve been trouble shooting, but haven’t been able to figure out what the problem is.”
The Chinese company Sinovel Wind Group Co. Ltd. is the manufacturer of the turbine.
The turbine has failed to produce any electricity since June 26, according to Power Dash, a website that records the turbine’s energy production. It was also offline for more than two weeks in May due to an electrical issue.
“All parties are working diligently to figure out what the problem is. Sometimes trouble shooting can be complicated and it’s just a loose wire we haven’t looked at,” Deane said. “The operator is doing everything they’re supposed to do.”
Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi told selectmen last week that the town gets paid regardless of whether or not the turbine is producing energy.
“There’s a put-or-pay clause in our agreement so we get our guaranteed revenue stream,” she said.
Palmer Capital Corp. and Solaya Energy are also the principals for a turbine in Fairhaven, which is also manufactured by Sinovel Wind Group Co. Ltd.
Deane said the operator visited the Fairhaven turbine to see if the software card from the Scituate turbine’s converter would work there. The Scituate turbine worked with the Fairhaven card, but the Fairhaven turbine wouldn’t run with the card from Scituate, Deane said, suggesting it’s a software issue.
Last June, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that three employees from Sinovel Wind Group Co. Ltd. were being charged with stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a United States-based company formerly known as American Superconductor Inc.
Deane said the ongoing litigation with the manufacturer hasn’t to his knowledge impacted the operator’s ability to fix the turbine. “We specifically asked the question and we were told that’s not an issue,” he said. “But when there’s litigation involved, you don’t get the whole scoop.”
Deane said the board of health on Monday requested one more round of sampling for an acoustical study on the wind turbine. The board in March 2013 ordered the study be completed after a group of residents complained that the noise and shadow flicker from the turbine aversely affects their health.
Once the turbine is operational, the last sample will capture the turbine at mid-production range with a southwesterly wind, Deane said. He noted that none of the tests done thus far have shown noise levels exceeding standards set by the state.
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