Article

Portsmouth unified to fix broken turbine

Gearbox reliability continues to dog the wind industry and as turbines become larger the push to improve performance becomes paramount.PORTSMOUTH - By a near-unanimous vote, the Town Council decided Oct. 23 to seek a public-private agreement to fix the town's broken wind turbine.

Gearbox reliability continues to dog the wind industry and as turbines become larger the push to improve performance becomes paramount.PORTSMOUTH - By a near-unanimous vote, the Town Council decided Oct. 23 to seek a public-private agreement to fix the town's broken wind turbine.

At Tuesday night's meeting acting town planner Gary Crosby and three consultants reported on the suspected cause of the busted turbine at Portsmouth High School and offered a plan to repair the damage.

By a 5-1 vote, the Town Council decided that the most suitable fiscal solution is to solicit proposals from private developers to eventually manage the turbine. Council members said they would only explore taking down the 336-foot-high turbine or having the town repair it and maintain it if the public-private proposal fails. Both options appeared to make it difficult for the town to pay the $2.38 million it owes for the project.

The cost to remove and replace the turbine's broken gearbox is an estimated $760,000, according to town officials. No date has been set for when request for proposals are due from developers.

There was no public objection to the public-private proposal. The... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Gearbox reliability continues to dog the wind industry and as turbines become larger the push to improve performance becomes paramount.PORTSMOUTH - By a near-unanimous vote, the Town Council decided Oct. 23 to seek a public-private agreement to fix the town's broken wind turbine.

At Tuesday night's meeting acting town planner Gary Crosby and three consultants reported on the suspected cause of the busted turbine at Portsmouth High School and offered a plan to repair the damage.

By a 5-1 vote, the Town Council decided that the most suitable fiscal solution is to solicit proposals from private developers to eventually manage the turbine. Council members said they would only explore taking down the 336-foot-high turbine or having the town repair it and maintain it if the public-private proposal fails. Both options appeared to make it difficult for the town to pay the $2.38 million it owes for the project.

The cost to remove and replace the turbine's broken gearbox is an estimated $760,000, according to town officials. No date has been set for when request for proposals are due from developers.

There was no public objection to the public-private proposal. The citizen advocacy group Portsmouth Concerned Citizens (PCC) has opposed the wind turbine since it went up in 2009. But the group endorsed the proposed solution to repairing it. "I think this is a reasoned decision," said Larry Fitzmorris, the PCC president. "I think it limits exposure to the taxpayers."

Other points of interest made during the nearly three-hour meeting:

• Council Vice President Judi Staven made a motion to instruct Crosby and the consultants to study converting the wind turbine into a cell-phone tower or other passive-use project. She said residents living near the wind turbine expressed gratitude that the blades were idle this summer. The council didn't second her motion, defeating the proposal. "A windmill it is. Sorry neighborhood," said an exasperated Staven.

• Wind turbine consultant Don Roberts performed a thorough inspection of the turbine and found no obvious explanation for the gearbox failure, which he called "catastrophic." A likely cause, he said, was faulty ball bearings. Eight other models of the same gearbox are in use in the United States and five of them have broken down, he said. An inspection of one of them revealed faulty ball bearings. A full dismantling of the gearbox, which can be costly, is required to diagnose the breakdown, Roberts said.

Other possible causes for the failure included wind turbulence and faulty blade rotation. Roberts noted that a meteorological, or met tower, wasn't installed to measure wind speed and gather other wind data prior to construction of the turbine. The met tower is common in most wind-turbine assessments, he said.

Roberts discovered that a faulty censor would likely have warned the town that the gearbox was breaking down. The company monitoring the censor went out of business, allowing the malfunction to go undetected. "I think it got lost in the bankruptcy shuffle," Roberts said.

• Two turbine developers responded to initial requests from Portsmouth to share ownership of the turbine. Mark DePasquale, owner and developer of a similar wind turbine under construction in North Kingstown, saw it as way to help renewable energy in Rhode Island.

"(He) wanted to step in and help us to fix the problem because of the negative publicity surrounding our problem and the dampening effect it was having on wind-energy development," Crosby said. "Our problem was hurting their business."

DePasquale's proposal and another by Palmer Management, of Cohasset, Mass., were tabled so that other developers could bid on the project.


Source: http://www.ecori.org/front-...

OCT 25 2012
http://www.windaction.org/posts/35237-portsmouth-unified-to-fix-broken-turbine
back to top