Charlestown Turbine Sinks 2 Inches; Ground Stabilization Planned

The blades stopped turning in January, and now we're learning why.

The Massachusetts Water Resource Authority shut down Charlestown's wind turbine in January because it has settled two inches into the ground, a sink that was one inch more than expected, according to a Boston Herald article on the turbine.  

In that article, MWRA Executive Director Fred Laskey emphasized that, “There’s no risk of it leaning over or falling,” and also said that this is ”one of those things that happens in a project. It’s manageable, it’s safe, and the remedy will come quickly under the warranty.”

The Massachusetts Water Resource Authority also told the Herald that possible causes of the sink include "soil conditions and vibrations from a sudden shutdown triggered by high winds," but an article on South Coast Today was more direct. 

"The Charlestown turbine was built on a landfill," it says, and quotes Sumul Shah, president of Lumus Construction, the firm that installed the turbine in Charlestown, on the solution to this sinking problem.   

"We'll add a cementitious material into the ground and it will make it more stable."  Also referred to as a "grout injection into the ground," Shah says this solution has worked in the past.  

Laskey and the MWRA are motivated to get the turbine running; as Laskey says, "The urgency is to get the turbine working again.  We were making electricity like gangbusters through the fall. It was magnificent."

Bill Carson March 04, 2012 at 01:17 PM
This is the same company that is installing a turbine in Scituate and Fairhaven. Where are the updates on the closure and the last few weeks, the contractor, Lumus, three engineering firms, and MWRA engineers have assessed the situation. Another Big Dig ?
Seamus O'Sullivan March 05, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Bill, for the love of god, please shut up.
Bill Carson March 05, 2012 at 02:21 PM
We have a right to know how the MWRA uses 4.7 million of our tax dollars to build a commercial wind turbine sinking like the "Big Dig". Who was the contractor and why isn't AG Martha Coakley looking into this ?
Seamus O'Sullivan March 05, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Agreed, you certainly do have a right to know. We got your point the first 5 times you posted the question. Now you're on probably the 20th. You clearly have an agenda. Enough already.
Lee Ellis Mccoy March 06, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Live near it , what a waste of our taxes, less than a year
Lee Ellis Mccoy March 06, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Ugly and tasteless
Bill Carson March 06, 2012 at 02:47 PM
MWRA refuses to issue wind turbine updates ! None of my business ?
Joseph March 06, 2012 at 04:45 PM
You mad Bill? Aren't we currently reading about updates in the above article? MWRA is quoted that the problem will be fixed under warranty. Sounds as if there is a game plan to address the issues at hand. What exactly is your problem? Wind power is an excellent way to generate electricity. I love how you're complaining about how your tax dollars are being spent, yet you want to waste your tax dollars by investigating "issues" that aren't really issues. Your logic (as well as Lee's) and short-mindedness confuses me.
Bill Carson March 06, 2012 at 04:54 PM
1.Your spending 5 million on a wind turbine instead of using a 23 watt CFL light bulb.2.The MWRA will issue a new update Weds afternoon by 3 PM 3/7/2012. 3.We need to investigate how the turbine sank and who in state or local government gave the OK on the building permit if they don't these wind turbine projects will end up just like the "Big Dig" a failure all over again ! 4. Don't let there be any more !
Joseph March 06, 2012 at 05:28 PM
1)And why not harvest wind to power those CFL bulbs? Why are you so against wind power? Other countries and states embrace, why not the USofA and MA? Wind power is an alternative energy source. Give it time. You have a VERY shortsighted mindset. Embrace wind power. It is the future, as is natural gas. 2)Investigate - Why? Why waste money to investigate when the engineers have already addressed the problem and are resolving the issues at hand. Seems they should have injected the "cementitious material" sooner, but I have yet to read that the contractors aren't on the hook for this additional work and we, the taxpayers, are. Have you? Please educate me Bill. 3) Just think of all the investigations that would go on when someone hires a contractor to do some work around the house, build an addition, whatnot, and then they learn about higher costs associated with the project. Happens all the time. 4)You obviously hate wind turbines for personal reasons. The Big Dig and wind turbines have zero in common. Stop trying to make an issue out of a non-issue.
Bill Carson March 06, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Google - Sal Dimasi Jay Cashman Oct 18 2007 -
Joseph March 07, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Bill - You're still against wind power. It's used very successfully by other states and countries. Referencing articles discussing government corruption is not educating me, especially when it comes to Boston. Lumus construction has addressed the problem(s) and fixing them under warranty. And the problem is what exactly? What's your agenda?
Bill Carson March 09, 2012 at 02:34 PM
The MWRA website says "Updates will follow as work progresses." February 24, 2012 was the last update so I understand that NO work is going on according to their website! The agenda is these turbines are being thrown into the ground as fast as they can and safety issues are the last thing they consider. Cementitious material has been added to other turbine sites ! If they knew it was a dump before the project started why didn't they add the material at that point in the project ? I feel there were steps bypassed in the process - what city or state agency passed the inspection of the base ?
David Kent December 24, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Not knowing Bill Carson I decided to research his information. Here’s what I found: 1.He’s on the money with Princeton. The gear box HAS failed necessitating a $600K replacement after 3+ years. Worse than that, the manager says that even with both turbines running, the project will run a $600K annual deficit. 2. He’s also on the money with Portsmouth which has also had a catastrophic gear box failure after 3 years. They’re trying to decide whether or not to pay the $460K needed to replace. 3. He describes the Charlestown issue incorrectly. The turbine didn’t “tip”. Rather, its foundation sunk into the landfill upon which it sits. The fix was quite quick, cheap, and routine. 4. The crack in the Kingston blade occurred during installation, not operation and it’s tiny: Often described as “cosmetic”. A minor problem. So, that leaves 2 turbines in New England with $480K to $600K catastrophic failures around the 3 year mark. When I surveyed them in 2010, New England had 87 wind turbines of size 1,500 KW or better (Falmouth’s are 1,650). I’m sure there are more today. The 2 that failed are from relatively obscure manufacturers: Fuehlander and AAER. The dominant manufacturers in NE are Vestas and GE. I can’t find any maintenance problems for those makers or beyond the 2 that Bill describes. I won’t opine on how seriously we should take those 2 failures. I’m just providing information.
Bill Carson December 24, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Otis ANG base Cape Cod :The FL-1577 started operating on 02 Dec 2009. The GE turbines started opeating on 03 Nov 2011. Regarding the FL-1577 gearbox, it HAS NOT failed. We noticed some metal flakes in the gearbox oil this past January and had a borescope inspection done. The inspection showed pitting of the gear teeth caused by pressing the metal flakes between the teeth. The problem component in the gearbox appears to be a bearing. Based on Fuhrlaender's recommendation, we are continuing to run the wind turbine while we work on procuring a new gearbox that has a different/better bearing. We monitor the turbine continuously via remote monitoring for a variety of parameters and we have technicians who visit the turbine each weekday during rounds conducted for our treatment systems.
David Kent December 24, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Yes Bill, I recall that note from the MMR project manager from a previous post of yours. I just found that note on topix.com and read it. Interestingly, this is another Fuhrlander turbine. That’s 2 out of 3 from that maker. The 3rd, from AAER, is an obscure one too. I guess I’d be more confident that we’re looking at the potentially widespread problem that you’re describing if one or more turbines from one of the dominant makers was struggling. But so far, as far as I can tell, the dozens of Vestas and GEs in New England are NOT having the troubles that Fuhrlander and AAER are. What do you think about that?
Bill Carson December 24, 2012 at 12:37 AM
From 2008 on one gear box maufacturer built the same gear box for many different companies .I believe the Vestas V 29 may be included in the batch of gear boxes . One gear box manufacurer made a gear change to adapt the wind turbine electric from 50 and 60 Hertz . The difference between US and Europe . The change of one gear in many of the gear boxes led to space between planatory gears Check out JAKE gear boxes : http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/06/wind-turbine-gearbox-reliability
Bill Carson December 24, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Also check :AAER to Deliver Wind Turbine to the U.S. Marine Corps Logistics Base in Barstow
Bill Carson December 24, 2012 at 12:42 AM
http://www.ndt.org/news.asp?ObjectID=22456 Technical Due Diligence of the Fuhrlander 1.5 MW Wind Turbine


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