SACO – Since 2008, a 100-foot wind turbine has stood tall on York Hill, greeting visitors as they crossed over the Saco River to the city. Now, less than 10 years later, the city is planning to remove the structure which has never lived up to the city’s expectations.
The wind turbine was purchased and installed by Entegrity Wind Systems in February 2008 for about $200,000. A contract with Entegrity Wind guaranteed the turbine would produce about 90,000 kilowatt hours a year, valued at the time at about $12,800, and free maintenance for the first five years.
The wind turbine has never come close to generating amount of energy promised, and Entegrity Wind went bankrupt in 2009.
The wind turbine is in need of repair and was shut down last year due to safety concerns, said City Administrator Kevin Sutherland.
The city’s Energy Committee and city staff have recommended getting rid of the wind turbine, and putting it out to bid to see if someone will purchase it for scrap material.
Public Works Director Patrick Fox told the council on Monday that the city may have to pay to take down the wind turbine, and its sale could be “a wash.”
Mayor Ron Michaud said the Energy Committee “does its homework” and has spent a lot of time reviewing what to do with the turbine.
Water Resource Recovery Department Director Howard Carter, chairman of the city’s Energy Committee said in a phone interview that the committee has had a lot of discussion regarding the wind turbine. Members of the committee did a lot of research on the wind turbine and have found parts for the structure are unavailable.
“It’s kind of sad,” he said, adding, “it is what it is.”
Carter said the City Council had forgone a study prior to purchasing the wind turbine, as it had a contract guaranteeing a minimal rate of production.
This isn’t the first energy efficiency project in Saco that didn’t turn out as proponents had hoped.
In 2007, the city purchased a two-seater Zenn electric car. The car, which didn’t travel above 25 MPH, did not work out and was later sold.
The city, however, has had many successful energy efficiency and environmental projects, including the installation of a smaller wind turbine at the wastewater treatment plant, and the installation of environmental efficient heating systems and lights.
Carter has received awards for environmental initiatives at the treatment plant, which not only include the smaller turbine, but also solar panels, sky lights that stream in natural lighting and a geothermal heating system that uses effluent water.