The number of spinning giant turbines standing high above Gloucester’s Blackburn Industrial Park is now, temporarily at least, down to one.
A spokesman for Applied Materials/Varian Semiconductor Associates said Monday that the company hopes to have its dismantled turbine back up and running in the coming weeks, but it remained in pieces on the ground Monday.
The man who heads up maintenance efforts on the other two turbines, which serve the city of Gloucester and its energy business partner, confirmed Monday that one of those giants – which sit on the former Gloucester Engineering property – has also been shut down for repairs, but should also be back in action soon.
“It’s down at the moment because we’re waiting for a part that controls the turbine,” said Sumol Shah, who works with Solaya Energy of Stoneham and manages repairs and maintenance for the turbines for Equity Partners LLC, the city’s partner in the nearly six-year-old project.
Shah described the part snarling the city and Equity Partners’ turbine as a small piece of equipment that is manufactured in Europe and is expected here this week.
“It’s a fairly unusual part. That’s why we don’t have it in stock,” he said. “But it’s not a major issue.”
Repairing the city’s shared turbine will not require taking apart the blades or other dramatic action, such as Applied has to carry out on its giant windmill, Shah said.
“Once we get the part, it should be a quick fix,” he said, “but we have to wait until it gets here.”
The other city and Equity Partners turbine continued spinning as usual over the sometimes windy weekend and in Monday’s breeze.
Meanwhile, the Applied Materials/Varian turbine – the first of the three installed at Blackburn, and the tallest at 492 feet when measured from its base to the top of a fully outstretched blade – remained in a state of disarray Monday. The enormous windmill and its blades are anchored to the ground while a crane remains adjacent to the mast and ready to hoist the blades back into place.
Ricky Gradwohl, senior director of communications for Applied Materials from its home base of Santa Clara, California, did not specify the nature of the repairs, but indicated the company remains committed to getting the turbine up and spinning soon.
“The blades have been temporarily removed so we can make some repairs to the wind turbine,” Gradwohl said in an email statement to the Times. “We aim to have the repairs completed in the next few weeks, weather permitting.”
Applied Materials officials have stood by their turbine project despite a series of shutdowns and repairs since the since their giant windmill was installed at the Varian campus off Great Republic Road in December 2012. They say the turbine has saved the company up to $1 million in annual energy costs since it was first installed, and it produces about 30 percent of the electricity for the company’s Gloucester campus while while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 34 percent.
The two turbines closer to the Blackburn Circle, which operate under a shared plan that generates power and financial credits for the city of Gloucester through Equity Partners of Needham and utility giant National Grid, have been spinning since January 2013, though they have also been subject to a series of maintenance and repair projects.
Those included steps to shut down both of them at different times in March due to hydraulic leaks, and another break to shut down one last January due to a blown circuit board.
The city had projected receiving $275,000 but reeled in only $203,474.99 in credits and revenues from the two turbines in fiscal 2018. It also drew in another $78,075 from an Equity Partners payment in lieu of property taxes, but that figure was anticipated.
The budget for this fiscal year calls again for netting $275,000 in revenues and energy credits, and an added $78,075 through in-lieu-of-tax payments, city documents show.
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