Metal Shavings Shut Down Light Plant Turbine-(Corrected Article)

Lamar Light and Power Turbines

Lamar Light and Power Turbines

Wind turbine T-2 has gone off-line, according to Lamar Light Plant Superintendent, Houssin Hourieh, during the board’s meeting on Tuesday, May 10th.  “At 9:21am on April 30th, turbine T-2 indicated a fault and we shut down operation,” he informed the board.  This is not the first time there have been problems associated with the wind turbines located east of Lamar.  Hourieh explained that general wear and tear on the gearbox causes metal shavings that are picked up in the filter, but some pieces are large enough, about the tip of a finger, to hook in the gears which register a fault, which takes the turbine operation off-line to avoid further damage.

Hourieh explained an examination showed the filter on the gear box caught pieces of shaved metal. A borescape on the gearbox was performed and the light plant is waiting on the report.  The superintendent said this was unfortunate, but something that has to be expected in wind turbines.  “The T-1 had this problem in 2013 and the T-2 turbine had a similar problem in 2014,” he explained, adding that after ten years of operation this type of problem starts to occur.  He expected to repairs to cost about $300,000, “We’re putting out bids for repairs,” he stated.  Hourieh said regular maintenance is performed with a six month oil test (change) and greasing, “There’s a lot of torque pressure on the gears from the turbine blades.  He said insurance doesn’t cover wear and tear of parts , and there is no insurance for downed power time.” (but there is coverage for lost power production which usually equals about a month’s worth of power output to the electric grid.)  He added that the light plant has almost $251,000 in a fund for gearbox replacement costs.  “We know this will happen from time to time, so we’re prepared for it.”

He was asked if it would be profitable to build more turbines to contribute more power for sale to the grid. “The life expectancy of a turbine is about 20 years, so at that point you start to weigh costs.  (A brand new turbine for a turnkey job would cost about $2 million.”  This was the cost of a turbine in 2003, the current cost has not been requested by Light Plant officials.)  He explained that the four turbines now produce six megawatts of power, “That’s just about perfect for our needs.”  But he explained why more would not be more profitable.  “In the dead of winter, our power consumption is at its lowest and any extra power we produce isn’t needed on the grid as much as in the summer.  We get paid almost nothing for that and Tri-State just won’t buy the extra produced because they don’t need it.  We can’t store it, so it’s just not usable.”  In reply to a question about shutting down the turbines in the winter due to slow demand, he stated, “It doesn’t pay to shut them down to reduce wear and tear.  Actually it’s better to keep them moving as the cold weather isn’t helpful on the gears and blocking them like that adds a lot more torque and force to the gears.  You’d have to lock them and then restart them and you could have a problem with that.”

In other developments, seven high school students from Wiley, Lamar and McClave submitted applications for the annual $500 scholarship from Arkansas River Power Authority and a matching $500 from the Lamar Utility Board. These schools are eligible as they fall within the customer service area of Lamar Light and Power.  This year’s topic, Hourieh said several months ago, required some thought on the part of the participants.  It read: “The cost of electrical power from renewable resources like wind and solar has been steadily decreasing. Some people believe the United States could eventually get all its electrical power from renewable sources, others think there are challenges and limitations that would never allow this to happen.  Discuss how much you think electrical power in the United States could realistically come from renewable resources in the next ten years, the obstacles and limitations to renewable energy, and how local utilities like Lamar Light and Power would be affected.”

Two applications were received from Lamar, one from Wiley and four from McClave. One student was selected from each of the schools based on their theme as well as academic achievements and community support.  They are:  Tim Ludwig from Lamar, Kyla Dodson from Wiley and Jacqueline Parker from McClave.  The scholarships are sent to the respective schools and the presentation is made during graduation ceremonies.

Editor’s Note:  Mr. Hourieh brought these errors to my attention as soon as he was aware of them.  I apologize for any problems that may have occurred from this article.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarCity of WileyConsumer IssuesEconomyFeaturedPublic SafetyUtilities


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