‘Wrap-Up’ on Reign of Wind Farm Terror: Blades Buckle and Turbines Tumble in Michigan

Is there anything that can be said for a medieval power source that was abandoned Centuries ago for pretty obvious reasons?

Pointless it most certainly is. But, along with that lack of justification on any level, comes a form of danger never seen before at any time in history: 10 tonne blades (with their outer tips clocking 350kph) being thrown hundreds of metres in all directions; and whole 300 tonne turbines thundering back to earth – splattering themselves all over the countryside – threatening the lives of neighbours and passing motorists. It’s a nightmare, to be sure.

Here’s the latest take on wind power’s unstoppable reign of terror from Michigan.

Wind turbine blade breaks in Sigel Township
Huron Daily Tribune
Chris Aldridge
19 February 2016

SIGEL TOWNSHIP — A 160-foot, 7-ton blade on one of DTE Energy’s wind turbines has been damaged near Section Line and Finkel roads.

Crews are on site to investigate what happened, said Jennifer Wilt, lead communications specialist at DTE.

Wilt says DTE noticed a turbine fault while monitoring from its Cass City location at about 3:15 p.m. They got a call from a landowner at about the same time, she said.

Wilt said the turbine automatically shut down after the incident.

Crews have closed the access road leading to the turbine. There are no other road closures, Wilt said.

Southwest winds will gust 45 to 50 mph this evening, with some gusts nearing 55 mph between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., according to a special weather statement from the National Weather Service.

Dennis Buda, operations manager at DTE Energy, said turbines are programmed to automatically shut down and enter an idle state if winds blow 42 mph or more for a period of 15 minutes. Blades start turning again after wind speeds measure below 42 mph for that same period.

Blades breaking aren’t an anomaly in Huron County.

In March 2013, a turbine blade, also in Sigel Township, broke because of a manufacturing defect, according to General Electric. In September 2013, a turbine near Minden City owned by Exelon Energy lost a blade after a lightning strike.

Buda, who once called Huron County a “mecca for lightning,” said in August 2014 the utility had almost 17 blades that had been struck by lighting. Strikes continued in 2014, causing land and crop damage and forcing wind park owners to replace blades.
Huron Daily Tribune

Turbine Blade Separation Reported in Sigel Township
Ralph Iden
19 February 2016

DTE Wind Energy crews are on the scene of a blade separation at the Sigel Township wind park near the corner of Section Line and Finkel Roads.

Spokesperson Jennifer Wilt said the access road to Sigel Wind Turbine Number 29 has been closed but traffic on the two roads is not affected. No one was injured when one blade fell off the turbine at about 3:15 p.m. The land owner notified the Wind Energy crews. Cause of the incident has not been determined.

Wilt said the team’s first priority is safety and security. When necessary steps have been taken to satisfy those needs, the investigation into the cause will begin.

The wind turbines are designed to shut down automatically which Sigel 29 did. The shutdown will have no impact on the company’s ability to meet the State 10 percent renewable energy requirement.

Sigel Wind Park is one of three which comprise the Thumb Wind Park. The other two are McKinley and Minden.

Photographs submitted to WLEW News by Kelly Zurek appears to show that at least a portion of the blade did not fall to the ground but instead partially wrapped around the turbine possibly damaging the turbine housing.

While in one part of Huron County one of these things was left to untangle itself, in another, gravity did its worst …

400-foot wind turbine falls in Huron County
Huron Daily Tribune
Chris Aldridge
25 February 2016

OLIVER TOWNSHIP — A nearly 400-foot, 485,000-pound wind turbine has fallen down on a farm field at the site of the state’s first utility-scale wind project.

Oliver Township Supervisor Larry Krohn said it came down at about 5:20 a.m. in the middle of the field.

“He just heard a noise and it sounded like a tree cracking or something and a little rumble of thunder when it hit the ground,” Krohn said of the resident’s account of the situation.

The fallen turbine is part of Exelon Wind Generation’s 32-turbine Harvest Wind Farm, the first utility-scale wind project built in Michigan. It began operation in 2008.

Krohn says he hasn’t seen any damages other than to the wind turbine itself. He says he hadn’t heard from Exelon Wind Generation as of 12:30 p.m.

The turbine’s tower is made of steel with three fiberglass blades, according to Exelon. It came down near the Berne and Gagetown roads intersection in Section 6, the northwest corner of the township.

“An incident like this has not happened at an Exelon wind farm,” said Kristen Otterness, communications manager for Exelon, which has 47 wind projects across the country in 10 states.

There were no injuries to employees or the public, Otterness said. She says the area around the turbine has been roped off and is in a safe and secure condition.

Otterness says Exelon is looking into the cause of the fall. The company notified the sheriff’s office and landowners, she said.

“We do have employees out there right now,” she said.

She said she can’t speculate as to Exelon’s plan or next steps but will know more after crews inspect the scene.

“We’re going to wait to get a response from Exelon before we do anything,” Krohn said.

Readers called the Tribune on Thursday morning reporting a turbine had fallen to the ground.

The fall marks the second incident in less than a week in which a wind turbine has failed.

Crews are still investigating how a 160-foot, 7-ton wind turbine blade broke in eastern Huron County, leaving it dangling like a shoelace and torqued around the structure. The damaged blade is on one of DTE Energy’s 40 turbines in Sigel Township, near Section Line and Finkel roads. DTE says it happened at about 3:15 p.m. Friday.

DTE says the turbine automatically shut down after the incident. The utility expects an “extended outage” for the turbine during repairs and while “extensive top to bottom inspections of the entire turbine are conducted.”
Huron Daily Tribune

Meanwhile, in another part of the County ….

Strong winter storm may be to blame in collapse of wind turbine
ABC 12
Terry Camp
25 February 2016

HURON COUNTY (WJRT) – (02/25/16) – The strong winter storm may have been the cause for the collapse a wind turbine in Huron County.

The turbine collapsed Thursday morning at the Harvest One wind farm on M-142 near Pigeon.

It is believed to be the first wind farm that went online in the Thumb area, so these are some of the oldest turbines in the state.

Just last week, the blades of a wind turbine were damaged at another Huron County wind farm, but Thursday, the whole thing pretty much came down. Just the base of the wind turbine is still standing.

This is on a farm field and there was no one hurt when it collapsed.

From the tip of the blade, these wind turbines stand about 440 feet.

This turbine was one of 32 that are part of the Harvest One wind farm, which is operated by Exelon Generation, out of Iowa. The energy produced here is purchased by Wolverine Energy out of Cadillac.

“What could happen if somebody was farming around it, I don’t know, but, it’s obviously something you don’t hear much about it and the company has verified that this is a rarity,” said Huron County Sheriff Kelly Hanson.

The Huron County sheriff and Exelon officials were keeping people off the property while the company tries to figure out what happened. A spokesperson says it operates 47 wind parks like this across the country, and this is its first collapse of this kind. The company says the wind park has been shut down for now and it’s not clear when it will operate again.

Exelon operates four wind parks in the thumb area and two others in Gratiot County.

The construction of the wind parks has been controversial in the Thumb area, with some people complaining about the noise they make, a flickering of light effect at night and safety concerns. Hanson says there have been three incidents where blades have been damaged at various Huron County wind parks, but nothing like this.

“There’s a concern here, and there is going to be a bigger concern as they sort out what happened here. I mean, there is going to be a lot of people watching this,” Hanson said.

Exelon Generation is working on the permitting process of putting up another wind park in Sanilac County.
ABC 12

County Sheriff, Kelly Hanson will never be confused with Sherlock Holmes when she says “the company has verified that this is a rarity”. Kelly might like to take what wind power outfits say with more than just a grain of salt; and start looking for ‘clues’ – starting with our wrap ups on flying blades and tumbling turbines here:

Wind Industry Claims Flying Blades & Crashing Turbines a ‘Landmark & Tourist Attraction’

290 Tonne Vestas Wind Turbines Dropping Like Giant Wounded Flies

Happenstance or Enemy Action? Giant Wind Turbines Collapsing with Alarming Regularity

Confirmed Unicorn sightings are ‘a rarity’, but vertically challenged Vestas are as common as tumbling toxic muck.

A more common sight than Unicorns …