Philips Lightolier wind turbine shutdown for work

FALL RIVER — Bad blade pitch bearings could ruin your day.

Philips Lightolier won’t let that happen.

Two massive cranes have been erected beside the 40-story wind turbine on a lot next to the Philips Lightolier plant, 631 Airport Road.

“We are replacing the blade pitch bearings,” said Melissa Kanter, spokesperson for Philips Lightolier. “In order to complete this work, the blades must be taken down, the bearings replaced and then the process reversed to reinstall.

“We started last week and expect the work to take approximately a few weeks to complete.”

The turbine, which is the tallest structure in the city, produces two megawatts of electricity when operating. That represented 70 percent of the electrical needs at the Philips Lightolier plant when it was built.

The turbine has been in use for five years, becoming operational on April 20, 2012. Company officials say it is the tallest turbine in the state, standing 415 feet at the tip of the top blade.

The blades themselves are 148-feet long. A wind of at least 7 mph is required to turn the turbine.

On Monday, one crane operated a personnel cage that carried workers up to the blades. Workers wrapped harnesses around the blades with cables attached to the harnesses. On Monday morning, all three blades were still attached.

The turbine cost $4.5 million to build, an expense partially offset by $540,000 in grants from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.

The two megawatts of electricity produced by the turbine compares to 30 megawatts produced by the five turbines that make up the wind farm in Block Island Sound. The Brayton Point Power Station, which burns coal, produces 1,600 megawatts of electricity.

Philips Lightolier officials say the two megawatts of electricity produced by the turbine is enough to power 500 homes.

The turbines will be returned to service once the maintenance is complete, Kanter said.



APR 25 2017
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