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Wind Turbine Repair Costs Could Range From $200K to $1.5 Million

The Portsmouth Town Council met Monday night at Town Hall. Featured here is an account of actions taken during the meeting.

Editor's note: There was a bit of a technical problem with the previous article. We've started a new article here and caught up at 7:23 p.m. 

6:58 — The meeting is expected to start soon!

7:01 — The meeting just started. All members are present except Keith Hamilton, who will be a little late, according to Joe Robicheau. Council approves peddler license for Baga'dowe Athletics of North Kingstown for an event at the lacrosse camp from July 23 to 27 at Glen Farm.

7:03 — Philip Driscoll stands at podium, asks council question. Robicheau says question is not on the agenda. Robicheau says Driscoll can ask the question to the town administrator.

7:04 — Robicheau says the council had joint meeting with School Committee. Both the council and school committee established a committee, a joint Town Council/School Committee finance committee.

7:06 — Council approves minutes for June 18, which was continued to June 25.

7:06 — Comment From Portsmouth dog owner: Has there been any word on when the town is going to hire an animal control officer? Mrs Hanson has been gone almost a year now this is getting ridiculous

7:06 — Council approves minutes for meeting of June 25 and executive session. Council votes 6-0 to approve bills.

7:08 — Town Administrator John Klimm congratulates . "It's an extraordinary thing the organizers do," Klimm said.7:09 On Wednesday, Klimm will meet with officials to discuss for former Elmhurst Elementary School.

7:10 — This week, Klimm plans to interview several companies who apply reverse 911 systems. "Our goal is to have it (a reverse 911) in place by Labor Day," Klimm said.

7:10 — @Portsmouth dog owner - No word yet.

7:11 — Klimm says search for new fire chief has begun. An advertisement has appeared in local publications, he said.

7:12 — Klimm says he and the DPW are working on . Klimm also says the town is working on creating a Facebook page and Twitter account for broadcasting information in the event of an emergency.

7:15 — Council appoints Hugh Atkins to Tax Assessment Board of Review.

7:18 — Council discussing appointment of Anne Fiore to Planning Board. Seveney says council should appoint Michael James.Council votes against appointing Fiore to Planning Board.Seveney nominates Michael James to Planning Board. Council votes 5-1 with Pedro against to appoint James.

7:24 — Council discussing charter changes. Council approves various changes to charter. 

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7:34 — Keith Hamilton arrives to meeting. Council discussing and voting on various charter changes. 

7:47 — Council discusses $2,723 bill for Miller Scott and Holbrook. "Where is the bill for 2010," asks Liz Pedro. "I don't see a bill before that (2012)." Councilor Judi Staven motions to put item on next meeting agenda. Council approves motion. 

7:55 — Council hears request for two Capital Improvement Projects. Coucil votes 6-1 to approve projects with Staven opposed. 

8:06 — Council awards contract for transfer station security services. 

8:09 — Council to hear update on the wind turbine generator. David Faucher says company is offering to sell gearbox to town for $101,000 to repair turbine. 

8:12 — Faucher also says same company is offering a "two for one deal," giving town option to buy two gearboxes for $203,000 plus shipping and installation. Faucher says total for two could be about $400,000. 

8:15 — Klimm says he wants council "to stop and look at whole picture" before going forward anymore with turbine repairs. 

8:16 — Pedro asked Faucher when the gearbox's warranty had expired. After Faucher said he couldn't provide an exact date, he stated the warranty expired two years after March 2009 or March 2011. 

8:18 — Hamilton says the whole turbine's engineering needs to be looked at. "Maybe the blades are too big. Maybe it's something else," he said. A representative of Lumus says there's no way to know what's wrong "without replacing the gearbox." 

8:21 — Lumus representative tells council, "without taking it (the gearbox) down, there's no way of knowing." Lumus representative said the same gearbox which failed in Princetown, MA, is same kind or make as one in Portsmouth. 

8:27 — "The reality is if we found it earlier, we would still be standing here telling you you have a gearbox failure," says Lumus rep. "We were hoping it was a sensor issue; it wasn't." 

8:29 — "It's been a national trend of gearbox failures," says Lumus rep. "It's been telling us something is wrong for a long time," Pedro says about the turbine.

8:43 — "I know the news isn't pleasant and there's a natural inclination to blame the maintenance provider, but the truth is, things break," said the Lumus rep. 

9 p.m. — Lumus rep said it could cost between $1.2 to $1.5 million to replace turbine nacelle. 

9:19 p.m. — Discussion on wind turbine continues. "This is a completely failing project," says one resident. 

9:24 — Council votes to postpone turbine issue to a future meeting. The turbine's error code for the gearbox was "666," according to council members. 

9:27 — Council agrees to allow Prudence Island Fire Department take part in selection for new fire chief. 

9:29 — Staven proposes ordinance for abandoned buildings in disrepair. Council votes 6-1 with Pedro opposed to direct town administrator to begin looking into drafting a new ordinance for abandoned buildings. 

9:37 — Klimm introduces Solid Waste Disposal Program to council. He said new legislaiton is needed for program, which might not be heard unless the General Assembly holds a special session this year. 

9:50 — Staven motions to direct town administrator and recycling committee to draft plan for pay-as-you-throw trash program to be presented to council. Motion passed 6-1 with Pedro against. 

9:52 — Council authorizes council President Joe Robicheau to sign two state reports and a budget survey report. 

9:53 — Council hears request to award contract for Fire Department Performance and Management Study. The contract would be with Municipal Resources and cost $15,400. 

9:54 — "We only budgeted for $15,000," Hamilton said. "This will involve all employees and Prudence Island," Klimm said. Faucher said the $400 is coming from savings from not hiring a fire chief immediately. 

Bill Carson July 12, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Town officials ! Contact Fuhrlander wind turbine company.AAER and Fuhrlander are one in the same for Portsmouth, Rhode Island. AAER Wind Energy had partnered with Fuhrländer to manufacture the Fuhrländer 1.5 MW wind turbine on a license in Canada. The Portsmouth High School wind turbine is a 1.5 MW AAER the same as the Fuhrländer 1.5 MW turbine produced around the same time. Why go with a third generation or rebuilt gearbox ? Why not go to the Fuhrländer wind company and get the upgraded gearbox - That's what they had to do in Princeton ,Massachusetts !
John ("Anything But Sue") July 12, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I took the liberty to copy this line from the article above at 8:18. "A representative of Lumus says there's no way to know what's wrong without replacing the gearbox." THIS came from the Lumus guy who's going to fix the turbine. Lets just start replacing stuff until we get lucky..Does that make sense to anybody..?
ralph July 12, 2012 at 06:40 PM
I always said that wind turbine was the biggest waste if money. Not only is it an eyesore, but now it looks as if it going to cost as much to fix it over a period of time as it did to construct the thing. How much was this supposed to save the taxpayers of Portsmouth when this thing went online? People better wake up and get a clue of the irresponsible actions of the current town administration. Before you know it Portsmouth will end up like these towns and cities in California. Filing for bankruptcy or having a tax rate so high, people won't be able to live.
Bill Carson July 13, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Lack of "Due Diligence" by town officials is what got the town in the turbine mess.The officials acted like a Saputello. The Portsmouth AAER 1.5 Megawatt turbine was assembled by a Canadian company using a liscence from the German wind company Fuhrländer The two companies were partners building the same 1.5 MW turbine. At the time the Fuhrländer 1.5 was a couple of hundred thousand more than the AAER 1.5. If the town purchased the Fuhrländer 1.5 turbine they would have a warranty today. Town officials went with a start up wind turbine company that went bankrupt as soon as they got their money. They bought a color TV with a Black and White TV in the box ! The Town of Princeton spent $600,000.00 and went back to Fuhrländer and bought an upgraded new gear box. All the information about the "Due Diligence" is in the following URL: http://www.altenergymag.com/emagazine.php?art_id=1365
William F Horan July 16, 2012 at 08:50 PM
http://news.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/2012/07/portsmouth-wind.html?plckOnPage=3&plckItemsPerPage=10&plckSort=TimeStampDescending#pluck_comments_list This is today's growing Portsmouth Wind Turbine Blow Back!

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