Lightning is the likely culprit after a wind turbine blade snapped amid a storm late Sunday into early Monday, near Grand Bend, a NextEra spokesperson says.
One of the towering turbine's three 50-meter-long blades was dangling Tuesday as the energy company worked to get a crane to safely take it down and uncover exactly what happened, said Josie Bird, of NextEra.
The $2-million turbine is one of 63 in the company's 102-megawatt Goshen Wind Energy Centre — along Kirkton Road, between Blackbush and Shipka lines – in Huron County.
“It's so rare,” Bird said about the snapped blade.
Only twice have NextEra turbines been similarly damaged, she said, including once at the company's Mt. Millar Wind Farm in Quebec.
Lightning is the presumed cause there too, she said.
“Obviously lightning is No. 1 on everybody's mind,” she said about this weekend's damage, noting turbines are designed to weather strong winds and it doesn't appear gusts caused the blade to break.
No one was injured, but the extent of falling debris on the property from the 80-metre-tall turbine isn't clear yet, she said.
Officials haven't been able to get close enough while the blade is hanging.
“Safety is our No. 1 concern,” she said, noting the area has been secured.
A damage estimate and exact cause could take a few days to a week, she said, noting NextEra will cover any property damage caused by falling debris.
“These turbines are sited in a way that they're not near any major infrastructure: any homes, any major roads,” she said.
“This is exactly why. It's because of events such as these that could occur.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the wind farm's turbines are undamaged and operating normally, she said.
But the incident is occasion for pause, said Santo Giorno, spokesperson of WAIT-PW (We're Against Industrial Turbines – Plympton-Wyoming).
“It's concerning to us to see a turbine blade damaged that way, and knowing in some cases they're 70 metres from a roadway,” he said, expressing concern about safety.
Most are further back, he said.
The group has come together against the joint, 46-turbine NextEra and Suncor Cedar Point wind farm project in Lambton County.
Construction on that project was temporarily stopped late last month when a worker fell from an “elevated height” inside a wind turbine shaft.