Not blowing in the wind

Wind turbine fix delayed two months

The city’s ailing wind turbine—known as “the windmill” to most—was due to be running again by Nov. 1. But fixing a worn bearing will now be delayed about two months, according to a city official.
Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority Executive Director Tim Boyle said he received word last week that work to fix the bearing will not begin until at least late December or early January.
“I have not heard back from United Water about what caused the additional delay,” Boyle said. “They said it would be further delayed and we won’t be receiving the part until the end of December.”
The turbine, which is at East 5th Street, began operation in late 2012. It is owned by the BMUA but operated and maintained by United Water.
Boyle said he is now concerned about weather delays, since the part, which is coming from Colorado, will arrive in winter.
“I’m frustrated right now,” he said. “I expected to have the thing turning again this week. It went from this week to next, to early January.”


“I’m frustrated right now. I expected to have the thing turning again this week. It went from this week to next, to early January.” – Tim Boyle

On the positive side, the cost for the replacement part and shutting down the area while it’s replaced may not be as onerous as originally thought.
The price for the part to be replaced, originally thought to be about $350,000, has been determined to be $298,000, Boyle said. And the city wants the replacement process to inconvenience residents and visitors as little as possible.
The turbine takes the wind blowing off the Kill Van Kull and turns it into energy savings of $235,000 a year for the city, according to Boyle. The city is losing $7,000 a week in energy savings.
The $7 million turbine has not been working since June 2, when it was remotely turned off after vibrations were detected by its maintenance company in Colorado. The turbine is also monitored by its manufacturer in Italy.
Boyle said that the vibrations were an indication that something was amiss, and that it was decided to shut it down to avoid further problems.
When it was shut off, an investigation determined that the main bearing in the generator at the top of the turbine was shot after a little more than three years, even though it has a 20-year life expectancy.
What caused the bearing to start operating incorrectly has not been determined, Boyle said.
He said the turbine was under a maintenance contract. The city originally had a one-year warranty on the part, which he said was an industry standard, but which could not be extended.
A regular maintenance schedule was adhered to, and at the last inspection in May there were no indications that there were problems.
The work on the windmill should take less time, and the logistics should be easier than originally thought because the replacement part won’t be a 77-ton piece, but something much smaller and more easily transported. It will come by land, not by water.
City officials are working to figure out a way to fix the 260-foot turbine without disassembling it. Originally, its generator and three blades were to be lowered to the ground, which may not be necessary now.
The city is doing everything it can to avoid shutting down the adjacent access road to Rt. 440.
Boyle said the replacement-part installation should take about “a day or so.”
He said that summer is the best time for the turbine to be inoperable because it is a low-wind season.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at

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