Lightning Strike Downs High School Wind Turbine

The wind turbine at Nantucket High School has not been functioning for more than three weeks due to a nearby lightning strike on Atlantic Avenue that caused nearly $40,000 in damages.

Nantucket Public Schools facilities director Diane O’Neil said a lightning strike around 11:30 p.m. on July 1 caused a surge which took out the turbine’s inversion transformer and other equipment inside the 100 kilowatt unit that was installed near the school athletic fields back in 2010.

PowerGrid Partners, of Ohio, which is the school’s maintenance contractor for the turbine, has been out to the island to inspect the damage, and the necessary parts have been ordered but have not yet been received. There is no definitive timeline for getting the turbine back online, O’Neil said.

The acquisition and installation of the high school wind turbine was funded largely by a grant from is­land seasonal resident and phi­lanthropist Wendy Schmidt’s Schmidt Family Foundation.

The ongoing maintenance costs and repairs must be covered by the school system. According to the town’s Energy Office, the turbine provides 12 to 15 percent of the school’s electricity demand each year, and generates roughly $35,000 in energy savings.

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