BAYONNE – The wind turbine used to power the city’s Oak Street and Fifth Street pumping stations has gone motionless, costing the city roughly $25,000 a month in energy costs, officials confirmed.
And there’s more possible bad news – Bayonne may be on the hook for roughly $350,000 to replace the broken generator.
The 260-foot structure, off East Fifth Street, went into operation in June 2012, with city officials touting energy savings of up to $300,000 a year. But the wind turbine stopped working in June.
The Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority which owns the windmill, and United Water, which maintains and operates it, have not determined what went wrong, or who is responsible for repairing or replacing the expensive equipment.
Boyle said a new generator could cost up to $350,000.
Municipal Utility Authority Executive Director Tim Boyle said he was told these types of generators are supposed to last 20 years. The city got three years out of its generator, which he doesn’t expect to be repaired or replaced until at least November.
That would cost the city roughly $125,000 in extra energy expenses.
“The generator’s official warranty has expired,” Boyle said, who noted that the plan is to ship it back to the manufacturer in Italy, where it will be inspected.
United Water spokesman David Johnson said UW, the company that monitors and maintains the windmill under a 40-year deal, was maintaining it on a monthly basis prior to June. A service contract between the parties was signed after the generator stopped working, he said.
One portion of the contract states “any construction or manufacturing defects relating to the wind turbine” count as “Excluded Liabilities” that aren’t part of the “Assumed Liabilities” of United Water – suggesting it’s the MUA’s responsibility to repair or replace the wind turbine if it’s not running due to a “construction or manufacturing” defect.
MUA workers detected vibrations coming from the turbine in June and the manufacturer shut off the generator remotely and then sent a representive to inspect it, Boyle said.
For the past two years, the turbine has produced about 3.3 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, enough to power 600 single-family homes for a year.
The expected five-month shutdown will cost the city an estimated $125,000 in enegry savings, but Boyle said it will not directly impact taxpayers.
“It will have zero effect on anyone other than city management,” Boyle said. “It’s a burden for the city’s revenue stream that’s being interrupted.”
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