Kensington’s wind turbine out of commission since January

Nancy MacPhee
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Geoff Baker, Kensington's chief administrative officer.

Legal action looming over cost to fix its generator, estimated at $75,000

A battle over repair estimates could prompt legal action by the Town of Kensington when it comes to fixing a wind turbine out of operation for almost a year.

The turbine, situated at the town’s sewage treatment plant, has been inoperable since January 2015, with a faulty generator at issue.

The town recently was reimbursed, through its insurance company, the cost to repair the turbine but holding up the work is the turbine’s manufacturer.

At Monday’s council meeting, the town’s chief administrative officer, Geoff Baker, threatened legal action if an adequate estimate didn’t come soon from Northern Power Systems.

“I emailed the contact there on Thursday of last week requesting a copy of the quote for Friday and, if not, we would be having discussions with our lawyer about potential legal action,” Baker told council.

Repairing the malfunctioning generator is a cost that won’t be covered by the manufacturer since the work is about six months outside the five-year warranty. What caused the malfunction is not known, added Baker.

“We were quite disappointed that a turbine with a 30-year design life had a major component failure six years into its operation,” he said Tuesday. “This is the first time that we have run into an issue.”

Since Monday’s meeting, he has been in contact with the manufacturer.

“I was told we would have a refined quote at some point today. Then, there are some logistical things that need to be worked out, i.e., training and things of that nature,” added Baker.

The cost to repair the 100-kilowatt turbine’s generator is estimated to be $75,000 to $80,000, all of which will be covered by insurance.

The town’s insurer is only providing reimbursement based on a refurbished generator, not a new one, which is what the company included in its earlier quote.

The turbine, commissioned in 2009, powers the town’s sewage treatment plant.

Since being offline, the town has had to pay additional electricity costs to ensure there was power to the plant, expenses not covered by insurance.

“We do not have loss of business coverage on it, so we will not get a reimbursement on loss of energy produced,” said Baker. “We always have a Maritime Electric bill, even when the turbine is producing. However, it is significantly reduced.”

The turbine, when up and running, produced enough electricity to ensure a credit from Maritime Electric to the town in the range of $900 and $1,300 a month.

Also, the town will have to pay a $10,000 deductible, money that will come out of the 2016 water and pollution control budget.

“At this point in time it is not in the budget,” said Baker.

The repair is expected to be completed sometime in January, and the turbine back in operation by early February.

“The primary goal for us right now is to get the turbine back up and operational so we are seeing those savings again,” added Baker.

Organizations: Northern Power Systems, Maritime Electric

Geographic location: Kensington

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