Work began on Thursday to remove Saco’s wind turbine on Saco Island. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

SACO — For the last decade, the 100-foot-high wind turbine atop York Hill has greeted motorists as they traveled from Main Street in Biddeford to Main Street in Saco. What has become a familiar site will be no longer, as the city of Saco has moved forward with tearing down the turbine.

The wind turbine was purchased from and installed by the Colorado-based company Entegrity Wind Systems in February 2008 for about $200,000. Many of those concerned with the system’s price tag were put to ease with the guarantee from Entegrity Winds Systems that for five years the turbine would produce 90,000 kilowatt-hours a year, valued at the time at about $12,800, and the promise from the company for five years of free maintenance.

Unfortunately, Entegrity Wind Systems went bankrupt in 2009, and when the company dissolved so did the guarantee it had made with the city.

The wind turbine never came close to producing the amount of energy promised, and without the guarantee in place, the city was not able to get compensated when the turbine didn’t meet expectations.

In 2016, City Manager Kevin Sutherland shut down the turbine due to safety concerns. The city’s Energy Committee and city staff reviewed the matter, and recommended removing the turbine.

Removal of the wind turbine began on Thursday and is expected to be completed today, said City of Saco Marketing and Communications Specialist Emily Roy. T Buck Construction, the company that installed the turbine, is taking it down, said Roy.

“They safely put it up, we know they can safely take it down,” she said.

The cost to remove the turbine is $20,000, she said.

Roy said city officials are working with the Energy and Sustainable Committee to determine a better use in the future for the piece of land, which is located on Main Street at Saco Island.

In the meantime, the site will be the location for the community’s Christmas tree, which is expected to be put up this weekend, said Roy. A Christmas tree lighting ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Dec. 8 during Saco Main Street’s Holiday Festival.

“We are excited to have that piece of property be a community gathering place and a place where people can congregate,” said Roy, noting the location’s close proximity to the city’s train station and the Saco River.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 780-9015 or [email protected].

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