CONNEAUT — A wind turbine severely damaged by lightning late last month is facing an uncertain future on Conneaut’s lakefront.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, City Manager James Hockaday said the turbine’s owner, NexGen Energy, wants a long-term renewal of its contract with the city before it will proceed with repairs.
The 400-kilowatt turbine was constructed in January 2010 to provide some of the electricity used by the city’s sewage treatment plant. On Feb. 25, lightning blew apart one of the turbine’s blades. A power surge from the blast also damaged some equipment and fixtures inside the plant.
A contract with NexGen obliges the city to buy electricity generated by the turbine for 10 years. The contract expires in 2020.
Hockaday said NexGen estimates repairs to the turbine will cost $250,000. To make the fix-up financially feasible for NexGen, the company would require an extension to its contract with the city, he told council.
A contract proposal is being prepared and will be shared with council when it’s delivered, Hockaday said. If no agreement on a contract extension is reached, the city would ask the turbine be disassembled and removed.
NexGen said the damage to the turbine was among the most severe the company has experienced, Hockaday said Monday. The extent of damage to the plant is still being assessed, he said.
The biggest concern is a blower motor on one piece of equipment that is not working properly.
In August 2011, 18 months after the turbine was installed, lightning damaged a blade that was replaced several months later.
A NexGen spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Another NexGen wind turbine, a 600-kilowatt model adjacent to Conneaut Middle School on Gateway Avenue, has been idle for years. NexGen is suing the manufacturer, alleging parts were defective. The turbine, designed to provide electricity to CMS, never performed as planned since it went online in late 2009, according to the lawsuit, filed in 2013.
Repairs to the school turbine won’t happen until the lawsuit is settled, NexGen officials said at the time.