The American Wind Energy Association is the well funded wind turbine industry lobbying group. In a recent AWEA article, “Hurricane Irene and Its Impact on Wind Farms,” David Smith of Infigen Energy (a co-owner of the Atlantic City wind farm) states, “Wind turbine blades … are designed to withstand the forecasted winds of Hurricane Irene, so we will not be removing and storing any blades.”
The Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority wind turbine would stand at 386 feet, and hurricane winds at that height are much stronger than at ground level. Hurricane Irene was no longer a hurricane by the time it got to Union Beach. As the blades for the proposed BRSA wind turbine are 118 feet long with an assembly weighing about 38 tons, Smith’s statement begs that several questions be asked and answered concerning the BRSA’s emergency plans for its turbine during hurricanes.
Taking Smith at his word, a giant crane and wind turbine-savvy construction crew would need to be quickly acquired and trucked into Union Beach in advance of a strong hurricane to remove the blades from the turbine for storage during the storm, and then reinstall them once the storm has passed. Can such a large crane and crew reliably be acquired to do this on very short notice? How large and heavy are these cranes as far as trucking is concerned, and what precautions would need to be in place as far as trucking them in and out on small local roads and bridges with saturated earth during an emergency? If a crane cannot be secured at the last moment, what happens if a blade or blades come off or the tower collapses? How much will that cost ratepayers with each storm threat? Given the close proximity to homes in Union Beach and the at risk sewage infrastructure at BRSA, there is potential for serious damage. Plus, crane trucking also needs to be addressed when used for installation and maintenance of the turbine. The issue of industrial wind turbine safety in hurricane strength storms needs to be more thoroughly addressed before the state, county, Union Beach and its neighboring towns allow the turbine to be trucked in, especially with the turbine project tied up in the courts.
The article: Hurricane Irene and its Impact on Wind Farms can be found at www.awea.org.
Photos of assorted fires and collapses: http://noturbine.com/, click on “CONTACT Plus photos.”
Bill Heller www.noturbine.com Union Beach