The Scituate Wind turbine had been motionless for more than 30 days, but came back online Wednesday.
The town benefits more when the blades are spinning, yet will not lose revenue based on an agreement with the turbine owners, Scituate Wind, LLC.
“The town has a contract for the wind turbine to provide at least 3 million kilowatt-hours of electrical energy each year,” said Al Bangert, special project coordinator for the Town of Scituate. “If the output does not meet the threshold, the town is fully compensated for the shortfall. The money is already in the bank, so to speak, since we have an ironclad contract and a substantial deposit in the town’s account.”
Bangert gave an update on the turbine to Selectmen during its Jan. 6 meeting. He said the turbine had been offline since early December due to the malfunction of a component that synchronizes the electricity it produces with the electricity on National Grid’s transmission lines.
“The owners of the turbine have called in extra resources to fix the problem,” Bangert said. “A new circuit board is being flown in from Austria. The electronics are very complex because of the huge amount of electrical energy involved.”
The 390-foot wind turbine was installed in its spot along the Driftway in early April 2012.
Bangert said in the first operational year (April 2012 – March 2013), the turbine produced 3,670,120 kilowatt-hours (kWh). The town received a net income of $183,324. In the second operational year (April 2013 – March 2014), the turbine produced 3,502,632 kWh, with the town receiving a net income of $235,839.
For April through November 2014, Bangert said the turbine produced 1,410,563 kWh, and that the town received a net income of $135,626. The town could gain an additional $110,000 in expected turbine production – 1,000,000 kWh – for the remainder of the third operational year, which stretches January to March 2015.
But with the turbine stalling, Bangert anticipates a shortfall.
If the turbine does not produce the additional 2 million kWh expected for the third operational year, the turbine owners would need to compensate the town for the lost net income, or about $40,000.
“The guaranteed production said the turbine would produce 3 million kWh per year,” he said, adding that the town would still make a total of $285,000 for the third operational, despite the instances when the turbine was offline.
Looking back over 2014, Bangert said the turbine was down for 24 days in April that presumably started with a lightning strike earlier that month.
“It took them 24 days to fix it,” he said.
This past July and August the turbine was down for 50 days. More recently, it’s been down since Dec. 9 and remains offline as of press time (Jan. 15).
“So in this year we have lost about 100 days of production,” Bangert said.
The months of January, February, March and April are the biggest times of production for this turbine as it is the windiest time of the year, he said.
“If we had had those 100 days, we would have had more money coming in, but at least we’re covered for the baseline of 3 million kWh, which is more than we made in the last two years,” Bangert said.
Note: As of Thursday, Jan. 15 the Scituate Wind turbine was back online and spinning.
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