Chester municipal council is looking for some answers after its wind turbine fell short of its revenue target to date this year.
The municipality had expected the Kaizer Meadow turbine to have generated $712,381 in revenue so far this year, but it has brought in only $202,972.
However, finance director Steve Graham said that’s enough to cover its expenditures, so the windmill is not losing money.
Several councillors said they’ve received calls from constituents wondering why the windmill isn’t turning as often as expected. The councillors have asked for a report on when and why the turbine isn’t operating so they know who’s responsible and whether they can recoup any revenue.
Coun. Andre Veinotte said while he’s been getting questions, he just doesn’t have the information to provide constituents a proper answer. He questioned whether the outages are “an ongoing thing or is it growing pains and then we’re going to be OK?”
Coun. Brad Armstrong said it was “blowing like crazy” one weekend but the windmill wasn’t running so the municipality lost 48 hours of power generation and revenue.
Warden Allen Webber said he knows the turbine was struck by lightning once and that a blown fuse during post-tropical storm Arthur caused another outage.
He said the municipality notified Nova Scotia Power, which buys the electricity, following the storm but it said turning the turbine back on was not a priority because so many customers were without power.
Webber said it costs $1,500 to replace a blown fuse and NSP wouldn’t let the municipality do it. Germany’s Enercon built the turbine but the power company maintains it.
“All that downtime is lost revenue,” Coun. Sharon Church-Cornelius said.
Webber said some of the downtime could be associated with Enercon’s technology, in which case it covers the lost revenue, and some could be due to NSP not turning the turbine back on. The municipality isn’t compensated when that happens.
Veinotte also wanted to know if the municipality’s revenue projections are realistic.
Webber said the turbine was established based on about seven years of data gathered at the site and the municipality needs at least a full year of financial information to get a fair picture of what’s happening.
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