The wind turbine at the tip of the Hull peninsula hasn’t been working since April 2021, and officials are deciding whether to repair it or take it down.
The 21-year-old machine named Hull Wind 1 “needs a complete overhaul of its generating components” at an estimated cost of $1.5 million, according to Town Manager Philip Lemnios.
The unit is no longer being manufactured, so the only available parts are either “after-market” or rehabilitated from other turbines — with no guarantees on performance or longevity, he said.
“An apropos analogy is the owner of a 20-year-old car has their transmission fail and has to make decision to replace with a rebuilt transmission, or recognize that even with a rebuilt transmission there are many other problems that will arise with a vehicle that age,” Lemnios said.
He said replacing Hull Wind 1 with a new turbine isn’t feasible because modern designs are taller — too tall for the location next to Hull High School, which is in the flight path of Logan Airport.
Lemnios said that if Hull Wind 1 is decommissioned, the Hull Light Board and utility staff are committed to replacing it with a sustainable energy source. Options include solar, wave generation, wind, and batteries, he said.
Decommissioning would involve taking down the gear box and blades, although the tower itself could remain and be reused for another purpose, Lemnios said.
Hull Wind 1 began producing electricity for the municipal light plant in December 2001. The turbine, which is 164 feet tall, was built by the Danish company Vestas and had a life expectancy of 20 years, according to a history on the town webpage.
Lemnios said that when it was running, Hull Wind 1 produced up to 3.5 percent of the town’s electricity. A second and larger turbine, Hull Wind 2, located on the town landfill, supplies about 7.5 percent of Hull’s electrical needs, Lemnios said.
Hull Wind 2, which began running in 2006, wasn’t working for several months this year, but has been repaired and is back in service, Lemnios said.
Hull is a pioneer in wind power; when Hull Wind 1 went up, it was the largest wind turbine in the state. And the site on Windmill Point was home to an earlier, albeit much smaller turbine, which operated in the 1980s until it was destroyed in a windstorm in 1997.
Johanna Seltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.