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Searsburg turbine blade flies off the handle

SEARSBURG — Most of the wind turbines are spinning in the breeze but one tower stands still, like an injured teammate on the sideline with a broken arm.

The severe storm that darkened the lights in thousands of homes across the state on Friday also broke one of the electricity generating wind towers in Searsburg.

One of the southern-most turbines now stands motionless, with only two and a half black blades, instead of three. The broken blade was destroyed by lightning during Friday's storm, said Dorothy Schnure, spokeswoman for Green Mountain Power.

Schnure did not know how far from the tower the section of the 63-foot blade fell. The area surrounding the wind facility is wooded.

Green Mountain Power owns the 11 wind towers lining the Searsburg ridgeline. The broken turbine sits at the highest elevation, about 2,900 feet.

The broken turbine is one of four that produce 20 to 30 percent more energy than the other seven turbines.

The facility has been in operation since 1997. Since that time lightning has destroyed at least one other blade, said Schnure.

"That's one of the risks with wind power, especially at the higher elevations. Though the blades do not conduct (electricity), but the towers do," said Schnure on Monday.

To protect against lightning the Searsburg turbines and substation are grounded with over a mile of buried copper cable and matting,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
The severe storm that darkened the lights in thousands of homes across the state on Friday also broke one of the electricity generating wind towers in Searsburg.

One of the southern-most turbines now stands motionless, with only two and a half black blades, instead of three. The broken blade was destroyed by lightning during Friday's storm, said Dorothy Schnure, spokeswoman for Green Mountain Power.

Schnure did not know how far from the tower the section of the 63-foot blade fell. The area surrounding the wind facility is wooded.

Green Mountain Power owns the 11 wind towers lining the Searsburg ridgeline. The broken turbine sits at the highest elevation, about 2,900 feet.

The broken turbine is one of four that produce 20 to 30 percent more energy than the other seven turbines.

The facility has been in operation since 1997. Since that time lightning has destroyed at least one other blade, said Schnure.

"That's one of the risks with wind power, especially at the higher elevations. Though the blades do not conduct (electricity), but the towers do," said Schnure on Monday.

To protect against lightning the Searsburg turbines and substation are grounded with over a mile of buried copper cable and matting, according to a Green Mountain Power newsletter.

Replacement blades are already on site, but the turbine must be replaced when there is no wind. The turbine may remain inoperable for a week to a couple months while equipment and working conditions are secured, said Schnure.

The replacement blade costs about $80,000.

The cost of labor to replace it has yet to be determined, said Schnure.

Source: http://www.benningtonbanner...

FEB 21 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1386-searsburg-turbine-blade-flies-off-the-handle
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