Fayette school wind turbine out of service 2011.11.23

Written by David Green.

Every time the wind blows hard, the frustration bubbles up again in Russ Griggs’ mind.

The Fayette superintendent of schools was successful in obtaining grants for the installation of a 250kW wind turbine that was dedicated last December.

The generator began kicking out electricity a few weeks later and by spring the district was seeing a large decrease in its utility bill.

And then it came to a halt in early October, with the brisk fall winds starting to blow.

“Of course we didn’t have this problem in the summer when the wind wasn’t blowing,” Griggs told the school board Monday.

Now, when the turbine could be operating at its best, a malfunction has taken it out of service.

An internal drive was removed Oct. 12 and sent to New York for repairs, but that wasn’t the source of the problem.

A large crane was brought in from Cleveland on Monday and removed the 3,300 pound generator that was taken to a company in Bryan, Ohio, for maintenance. Damage in the sealed unit won’t be known until it’s opened for inspection.

Damage to the drive and generator was caused by a short circuit and the turbine won’t go back into operation until the source of the problem is tracked down. It’s presumed that one of the generator cables in the tower is shorting out.

Engineers will determine if the problem is with the cable itself or the manner in which it was installed. Griggs is hoping the turbine will be back in operation before the end of the year.

The only good thing about the problem, he said, is that the unit comes with a one-year warranty and the district purchased an extended five-year warranty.

“My wife tells me to quit stressing out every time the wind blows,” Griggs said.

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