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Searsburg windmill collapses

There are 11 wind turbines at Green Mountain Power's Searsburg wind facility but recently one of them suffered a setback when its nacelle (or wind turbine gearbox) collapsed in high wind conditions. ...On Monday, September 15, a blade on turbine number 10 came in contact with the tower. The chain reaction caused it to buckle and it crashed to the ground, scattering debris several hundred feet from the structure. No individuals were hurt when the nacelle collapsed. However the nacelle leaked 40 gallons of hydraulic oil on the site.

There are 11 wind turbines at Green Mountain Power's Searsburg wind facility but recently one of them suffered a setback when its nacelle (or wind turbine gearbox) collapsed in high wind conditions. Now Green Mountain officials are wondering whether to replace it, since tower manufacturers no longer make the model.

On Monday, September 15, a blade on turbine number 10 came in contact with the tower. The chain reaction caused it to buckle and it crashed to the ground, scattering debris several hundred feet from the structure. No individuals were hurt when the nacelle collapsed. However the nacelle leaked 40 gallons of hydraulic oil on the site.

According to Green Mountain Power spokesperson Dottie Schnure, half of the oil leaked was contained while the rest was cleaned on site by the Agency of Natural Resources. Schnure said the hydraulic oil was extremely heavy and only able to migrate about 2.5 feet to three feet until it hit bedrock. All the soil affected by the spill was dug up and removed from the site and there was no report that oil seeped into surface water. The estimated cost of the oil cleanup and soil disposal is $10,000. Green Mountain Power notified the state immediately when the accident... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

There are 11 wind turbines at Green Mountain Power's Searsburg wind facility but recently one of them suffered a setback when its nacelle (or wind turbine gearbox) collapsed in high wind conditions. Now Green Mountain officials are wondering whether to replace it, since tower manufacturers no longer make the model.

On Monday, September 15, a blade on turbine number 10 came in contact with the tower. The chain reaction caused it to buckle and it crashed to the ground, scattering debris several hundred feet from the structure. No individuals were hurt when the nacelle collapsed. However the nacelle leaked 40 gallons of hydraulic oil on the site.

According to Green Mountain Power spokesperson Dottie Schnure, half of the oil leaked was contained while the rest was cleaned on site by the Agency of Natural Resources. Schnure said the hydraulic oil was extremely heavy and only able to migrate about 2.5 feet to three feet until it hit bedrock. All the soil affected by the spill was dug up and removed from the site and there was no report that oil seeped into surface water. The estimated cost of the oil cleanup and soil disposal is $10,000. Green Mountain Power notified the state immediately when the accident occurred, however residents were not in the loop. That left some residents and some critics ill at ease.

"Why didn't they tell anyone? It was purely by chance that we found out about it," said Lisa Linowes, of the Industrial Wind Action Group. "They say the turbines are designed to withstand high winds in difficult climate conditions but the truth is the life expectancy of these turbines is simply not known."

The blade that made contact with the tower had been struck by lightning in January 2008. Schnure said new blades of this size are no longer manufactured, so the blade was repaired on site and placed back on the turbine in July. The winds on September 15 were remnants of Hurricane Ike and they were the strongest winds that have occured since the blade was reinstalled. Schnure also mentioned that the other 10 turbines did not encounter any problems and the problem may have been due to wear and tear.

However Linowes said that the turbines on site were supposed to withstand winds much worse than those of September 15. Linowes speculated that if the accident did have to do with wear and tear then the turbines are not meeting expectations. "The turbines are supposed to last for more than 20 years and the turbines there were installed in 1997," said Linowes. "We don't know the life of these turbines and we also can't anticipate what kinds of failures will occur in the future."

Schnure, on the other hand, said accidents like these are rare and in the long run the Searsburg wind project has been efficient in terms of producing electricity. "It's been fairly close to what we anticipated, 11-12 million kilowatts per hour a year," said Schnure. "That is good locally-produced non-emission power."

Green Mountain Power is conducting an economic analysis of whether to replace the turbine. Wind mill manufacturers no longer make the models currently on site, but Schnure said there may still be alternatives available. "We're looking to see if there are any blades removed for any reason that would be available to install," said Schnure. "We will look at the cost of replacement parts, how long it's expected to run, and how long we're expected to run the whole plant."

Iberdrola Renewables is pursing a certificate of public good to build 17 new windmill turbines on Searsburg and Readsboro ridgelines. Should the project receive approval from the Public Service Board, Green Mountain Power said they will continue to operate the windmills in conjunction with Iberdrola Reneawables' Deerfield Wind Project.


Source: http://www.dvalnews.com/new...

OCT 23 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17608-searsburg-windmill-collapses
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