Hanover sees few returns on wind turbine; Taxpayers yet to see profits from $750,000 wind energy investment
The wind turbine on Route 53 only ran for only one day in August, because of ongoing issues with the hardware and software, according to Town Manager Troy Clarkson.
The machine was meant to save the town $50,000 a year on energy costs to offset the expense of operating the town’s water treatment facility. But in August, the turbine ran for just one day, saving $2.13 that month.
Since the turbine first went online in September 2013, it has saved the town a total of $9,008.40, of which $6,532.67 was generated in 2014.
The turbine has had a number of mechanical issues since it was built, such as problems with the tip-braking system, hydraulic temperature and twisting power cables, according to Clarkson.
The town hired a consultant Aeronautica Windpower, which worked with the original manufacturer from India, Siva, to try to diagnose the current problem, said Tim Stearns, chief operating officer.
“We found the hydraulic system unable to pressurize,” Stearns said. “The system was drained, all hoses and fittings were recalibrated, and the turbine was restarted.”
The turbine has was back online as of Tuesday, with no signs of pressure loss, Stearns said.
“We are hopeful that the issue was corrected through our actions yesterday,” he said.
Clarkson presented a financial status update for the turbine to selectmen Monday.
The expected completion date of construction was meant to be February 2011, but operation has been sporadic due to mechanical problems, according to a report submitted by Town Manager Troy Clarkson on the turbines functionality and expenses. In a contract between the town and the contractor who installed the turbine, Lumos, a Wilmington-based energy company, the town is eligible for liquid damages of $1,000 per day that the turbine is not operational from the expected date of completion.
To date, the liquid damages total $1.6 million, Troy said.
“Here we are being up front and sharing the data. The news is not good, but it’s out there,” Clarkson said.
The turbine cost taxpayers $750,000 to construct and since its completion, taxpayers have paid out another $92,521 in consulting fees to Aeronutica Windpower to mitigate repairs.
Clarkson said a grant from the Mass Technology Collaborative was initially signed in 2009 to reimburse the town $250,000 for the wind turbine. When the town decided to increase the size of the turbine, another $200,000 was added to the grant, which can reimburse the town for up to 75 percent of the cost.
Because of ongoing mechanical issues, the town has yet to take ownership of the machine, which means they have not received any money from the grant.
In the financial status update, Clarkson only included the initial $250,000 grant, in case the rest of it may have expired since the contract was signed six years ago.
“It is an academic exercise at this point, as the final financials have not yet been determined,” Clarkson said.
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