Saturday, December 7, 2013
The Saco City Council wants to meet with the head of the company that sold the city a wind turbine before deciding what to do about the broken structure.
The wind turbine at the Saco Transportation Center has not generated the amount of electricity the city was promised during the unit’s first 18 months of operation, and now it needs repairs.
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
The turbine, which cost $207,000, including $77,000 for the installation, went into operation in February 2008. It was supposed to generate 90,000 kilowatt hours -- $12,600 worth -- of electricity annually for 10 years, according to the city's contract with Entegrity Wind Systems of Prince Edward Island. But it never came close.
The turbine produced 16,000 kilowatt hours during its first 18 months, then broke down several months ago.
The council decided Monday night to meet with James Heath, the former chief executive officer of Entegrity, which was declared bankrupt by a Canadian court in October. Heath had offered at one point to buy the turbine back for $130,000.
"He sounds like a reasonable person," Saco Mayor Ron Michaud said Tuesday.
Saco was not the only Maine community that bought a wind turbine from Entegrity with the goal of cutting electricity costs.
Kittery bought a $200,000 setup. That turbine produced about 35,000 kilowatt hours in a year of service. The Kittery Town Council eventually decided to sell the turbine back to Heath after he offered to buy it.
Details of the transaction are still being worked out, said Kittery Town Manager Jonathan Carter. He said the turbine is expected to come down by the end of this summer.
The Saco City Council also wants to talk to Heath about making repairs to the turbine, which are not expected to be costly.
Heath has indicated that he could develop a new blade that would nearly double the turbine's production to 30,000 kilowatt hours a year, said Howard Carter, Saco's deputy public works director.
It is unclear whether Heath would make repairs or install a new blade for free.
Saco had hoped that its turbine would power the city's Transportation Center, which houses the Amtrak Downeaster train station.
A geothermal energy system that provides heating and cooling for the center has proven to be efficient. But the turbine didn't perform as advertised, so the city has had to buy electricity to supplement the turbine's output.
Michaud said the council hopes to meet with Heath next month, but a meeting has yet to be scheduled.
Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: email@example.com