On the Morning of March 6, 2009, contractors working at the Noble Altona Windpark located in Clinton County, New York, were changing the settings on a bank of relays. The procedure resulted in the unintended loss of electric power at the facility, which consists of 65 turbines manufactured by General Electric (GE). The turbines are designed to automatically go into a “safe” mode upon loss of electric power and most of the turbines on the affected circuit (circuit #3) did so in response to the March 6 event. The two remaining units, designated as Turbines 42 and 59, did not move into safe mode. The rotor and blades of Turbine 42 spun at approximately three times the operational design speed, and blades apparently contacted the tower structure, which ultimately collapsed. Oil in the nacelle of the turbine caught fire and the unit was heavily damaged.
The Commission ordered an investigation. This decision by the Commission orders the following:
1. Noble Environmental Power, LLC is directed to show cause, within 30 days after the issuance of this order, why it should not be required to demonstrate, through a third-party certification or otherwise, that its affiliated electric corporations operating in New York are providing safe wholesale electric service, instrumentalities and facilities, and that all Quality Assurance/Quality Control program measures and manufacturer's recommendations for inspection and maintenance of turbines, towers and related facilities have been implemented for the facilities they are operating in New York State.
2. The Secretary, at her sole discretion, may extend the deadline set forth in this order.