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Breaking News .Portsmouth wind turbine shut down; needs $460,000 in repairs
Portsmouth wind turbine shut down; needs $460,000 in repairs

July 16, 2012 6:01 am By Alex Kuffner
Providence Journal files / Kathy Borchers

The wind turbine at Portsmouth High School.

PORTSMOUTH, R.I.-- In March 2009, officials heralded the installation of a 336-foot-tall wind turbine at the high school. It was the largest in Rhode Island, and they believed it would generate dollars as well as watts, selling power into the electric grid.

For three years, the $3-million windmill fulfilled that promise, making the town about $400,000 after maintenance and debt payments.

But in February, technical problems started shutting down the turbine for weeks at a time. In June, it stopped again, and it hasn't started since.

Last week, the Town Council learned that the turbine's gearbox had failed and needed to be replaced for at least $460,000 -- completely erasing those three years of income.

The situation has left council members angry and exasperated.