Potsdam’s new hydro generators shut down for fear of damage as noise gets worse
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 2:48 pm

By CRAIG FREILICH

POTSDAM – The village’s new hydroelectric generators are shut down while technicians try to figure out what’s making so much noise and potentially damaging the units.

The turbines at the west dam on the Raquette River hit another snag in a long series of setbacks as the turbines were “making some loud noises that didn’t sound good,” according to Mayor Steve Yurgartis.

He said the noises were believed to be coming from the bearings under the two turbines. One was making more noise the other.

“We’ve sent a recording of the sound to Orengine,” the Italian turbine manufacturer, to see if they can diagnose it from where they are, Yurgartis said.

“We’ll probably have to put stop logs in to ‘de-water’ unit one, to get into the equipment and inspect it to try and understand” what’s happening, the mayor said.

Yurgartis, who teaches engineering at Clarkson University, said the noise had been “getting worse over time” when he decided to shut the generators down Saturday morning.

This is only 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 the 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 two weeks ago.

“It’s very disappointing and frustrating,” said Yurgartis. “We’re doing our best.”