Idle machine costing Kensington thousands of dollars
KENSINGTON - A wind turbine that has been out of commission for more than a year, costing the Town of Kensington tens of thousands of dollars, should be turning by month’s end.
Town manager Geoff Baker said that replacement parts for the turbine, situated at the town’s sewage treatment plant, were expected to arrive Tuesday.
It has been inoperable since January 2015, with a faulty generator at issue.
“The work will take about four days to complete,” said Baker. “We hope to have the turbine back up and running within a week to a week and a half.”
Late last year, the town was reimbursed, via its insurance company, the cost to repair the turbine, but the work was stalled by the manufacturer, Northern Power Systems, which failed to provide an adequate estimate on repair costs, prompting the threat of legal action by the town.
The cost to repair the 100-kilowatt turbine’s malfunctioning generator, about six months outside the turbine’s five-year warranty and not covered by its manufacturer, is about $75,000 to $80,000. The town’s insurer is only providing reimbursement based on a refurbished generator.
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.
“Generally the turbine would create about $2,000 worth of electricity per month that we sell back into the Maritime Electric grid,” said Baker. “It is significant for us.”
He estimated the loss to be about $22,000 to $26,000.
That amount doesn’t include the $10,000 deductible that the town will pay on its insurance claim for the repairs. That money will come out of the 2016 water and pollution control budget, said Baker.
“That is a separate budget from the Town of Kensington budget,” he added. “The deficit (for water and sewer), unaudited, at this point for 2015 is about $30,000, which certainly a portion of that is attributed to the sewage treatment plant wind turbine.”
Water and sewer rates will increase this year in part to help offset that cost, which has been approved by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.
“The expenditures associated with water and sewer are continuing to climb on an annual basis with increases to electricity,” said Baker.
The rate increase will be over five years with the water rate increase for 2016 at one per cent while the sewer rate increase this year will be three per cent.
That would equate to an additional 26 cents per month for water and another 80 cents per month for sewage for a single-family residential home.