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Scituate wind turbine up and running

Jessica Bartlett for The Boston Globe

It took Scituate six years to bring the $6 million, 400-foot-tall turbine from conception to reality.

Scituate’s wind turbine was up and running Thursday afternoon, ready to produce half of the town’s municipal power needs.

The $6 million, 400-foot-tall turbine was turned on a little over a month after the huge device was assembled.

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Since then, construction crews have been working with National Grid employees to get the turbine hooked up to the power grid. On Thursday, crews ran through a list of scenarios to test the turbine’s emergency response before finally turning on the machine.

“It has to run for 240 hours, 10 days straight, before the owners take acceptance as a completed project from the construction company,’’ said Albert Bangert, director of the Scituate Department of Public Works. “There may be some shutdowns to test it in the next 10 days, but it’s a functioning turbine.’’

Scituate has beat out Kingston in the race to turning on its turbine.

Kingston recently found a .04-inch crack in one of the blades. Rather than replace the entire blade, crews decided to remove a section of the blade and replace it with new material.

Despite the delay, the Kingston turbine should be online by April 15.

As for Scituate, town officials were proud of the effort that had gone into the turbine and were excited to see it up and running. It’s taken over six years to bring the turbine from conception to reality. Parts for the turbine traveled 10,934 miles from a port in Tianjin, China, to Providence and then were trucked up to Scituate and assembled.

“It felt great to be able to send out that terse note to say it’s running and producing electricity. There are no more unknowns. The only unknown at this point is the weather,’’ Bangert said.

“It’s a nice achievement,’’ agreed Selectman Rick Murray. “And the first one will always be the longest [process] because people have never done it before. If we put another up, which I’d like to consider, I’m sure it would go more quickly.’’

Both Bangert and Murray recognized the Renewable Energy Committee in its efforts to get the turbine up.

The committee was the first to look at the idea of a turbine in 2006 and figure out where it could go, who would finance it, and when it could happen.

“They worked deliberately at a steady pace that resulted in them bringing a project to fruition that has met with little controversy and has been celebrated by the community,’’ Bangert said.

With one green energy project complete, town officials have already moved on to the next one.

According to Bangert, the town is looking to break ground on the solar array project, which will be located on the town’s capped landfill, by mid-May.

“It’s about a five-months construction project and two months of fine-tuning and testing and wrapping things up with National Grid. By Christmas it would be running,’’ Bangert said.

The fact that all of the town’s municipal power needs will be met with green energy next year is an exciting achievement, Murray said, and one other towns should take note of.

“There are a lot of capped landfills all over this Commonwealth, and a lot of other town- owned land we could be putting solar panels on,’’ Murray said. “All of our municipal and school needs paid for by green energy. We’re a small town but bigger towns have bigger landfills. It cuts both ways.’’

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