An investigation is deepening into why a wind turbine built to withstand arctic cold and hurricane winds collapsed in a Huron County field last week.
Kristen Otterness, a spokeswoman for Exelon, said security will be on site around the clock in Elkton for the next couple of weeks while the company continues its investigation.
The 396-foot windmill fell between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. Feb. 25 in a field in Elkton. The turbine was part of Exelon’s Harvest I wind project. No one was injured.
After the collapse, Exelon stopped all turbines in the Harvest I wind project for a short time to perform external visual inspections.
Otterness said the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and county emergency management were notified when some oil leaked from the turbine.
“This specific turbine model is designed to withstand arctic weather conditions, and has successfully withstood hurricanes,” Otterness said in an e-mail. “We believe this is an isolated, turbine-specific event and not a larger fleetwide issue.”
Deb Elliott, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said Pigeon and Bad Axe, located west and east of Elkton, received 6 to 7 inches of snow that day. Elliott said estimates put the wind speed at 40 to 45 mph, with isolated gusts of 50 mph.
Chante Condit-Pottol, a spokeswoman for the turbine manufacturer, Vestas, said service technicians and experts are working closely with Exelon to determine the cause of the V82-1.65 MW turbine collapse.
Condit-Pottol said Vestas has manufactured other wind turbines in Michigan and the U.S.
“This is the first (Vestas) turbine collapse in the U.S.,” Condit-Pottol said in an email. “Vestas has installed 55,000 turbines globally, and incidents such as this are very rare.”
The Elkton turbine collapse came about a week after a blade broke on a DTE Energy wind turbine Feb. 19 in Sigel Township, also located in Huron County.
The blade bent and wrapped around the nacelle of the turbine, flinging a 12-foot piece of blade about 120 yards from the base.
DTE Energy regional manager Ron Chriss said GE, the manufacturer of the turbine, will be on site this coming week to make repairs and investigate the cause.