Consultant coming to Potsdam to look at beleaguered hydro station
Sunday, April 27, 2014 - 4:33 pm

By CRAIG FREILICH

POTSDAM – Potsdam’s trouble-plagued hydroelectric project sought help as an expert consultant from Montreal was due in Potsdam Tuesday to try to analyze the latest difficulty.

Just weeks after it was cleared to connect to the grid, the beleaguered project suffered another setback when some fast-spinning parts at the heart of the generating machinery were making a terrible noise and the turbines were shut down.

Subsequent examination revealed that bearings might have been improperly manufactured, according to Mayor Steve Yurgartis. He said slots that should have been cut into the part to allow silt and sand to escape were not there, and that deposits could have made the noise they heard.

“The bearings are expected back from Northern Machinery today,” Yurgartis said, with the slots cut into it. He said they will be reinstalled and then they might be able to determine “what other issues we have to deal with.”

Yurgartis said the expert from Montreal is “an alignment person” who will help determine if the shafts of the turbines had moved or been bent out of position.

This is the latest in a string of misfortunes the project has had to overcome since building began six years ago. The first and probably most serious of the delays was caused by the Ontario turbine builder who failed to supply the critical parts, violating his contract and forcing the village to take legal action, so far to no effect, and the village turned to an Italian manufacturer for the turbines.

Since their installation fine-tuning the controls seemed to have been a bit of a stumbling block, but all that seemed to be at an end when the village got the okay from National Grid to plug into the grid about a month ago.