BAYONNE – After costing the city more than $200,000 in energy savings since breaking down in June, Bayonne’s dormant wind turbine is undergoing repairs this week.
On Tuesday, workers at the site of the turbine at Oak and Fifth streets were putting together an enormous crane that Tim Boyle, the head of the city Municipal Utilities Authority, said will aid them in switching out a broken bearing with a new one.
“The goal will be to remove one of the blades and lower it to the ground … and then the goal will be to remove the remaining two blades,” Boyle said. “(That’s being done) to get access to the bearing they need to finally make that repair.”
The 260-foot wind turbine was originally scheduled to be repaired in November. Repairs were pushed back to late December after the part needed to fix the turbine was on back order and were then further delayed.
The turbine went into operation in June 2012, with city officials touting energy savings of up to $300,000 a year. But it stopped working last June.
Every month that the turbine goes unrepaired costs the city roughly $25,000 in energy savings, Boyle has said. Assuming the turbine is fixed by the end of this month, the money lost in energy savings would total about $225,000.
SUEZ, formerly United Water, monitors and maintains the turbine under a 40-year deal with the city MUA, which maintains ownership of it.
Boyle said this week that the repair work on the turbine is weather-dependent because if winds are too blustery, attempting to remove the blades would be dangerous.
“If it’s a perfectly calm, still day, it could probably all be done in one day,” he said, noting that he doesn’t expect the work to affect traffic in the area.
Boyle said questions about what caused the turbine to break down, and who will be paying for the repair work and replacement part are premature, given that the broken bearing still has to examined by engineers.
“Right now, we’re razor-sharp focused on getting the repair done. Once the repair is done, we’ll turn our focus on what happened,” he said.
Still, Boyle noted that the broken bearing was supposed to last 20 years, but only lasted three.
“We are prepared to examine whatever evidence comes back and do whatever we have to do for the city of Bayonne … if there’s a finger to be pointed or fault to be assigned, that will happen in time,” he said.
The part needed to repair the turbine is estimated to cost $298,000, the MUA official has said.
Boyle said Leitner-Poma America, based in Colorado, is leading the repair work on the turbine. Leitwind, an Italian manufacturer of wind turbines affiliated with Leitner-Poma America, is the company that made the turbine.
As for the delays in getting a new bearing to replace the broken one, Boyle said he previously thought the new part had been rejected several times because of insufficient “steel tolerance”; he corrected himself this week, saying the part “was built to the wrong specifications as opposed to it being a steel tolerance issue.”
When it was working, the turbine produced about 3.3 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, enough to power 600 single-family homes for a year.
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