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Vandals damage tower at crucial time  

Windflow Technology’s efforts to sell New Zealand-made wind turbines to the world have been disrupted by vandalism at its Gebbies Pass site near Christchurch.

A 30m-high wind-monitoring tower worth about $30,000 was found damaged beyond repair on Tuesday morning after two guy wires holding the lattice mast were undone, causing it to crash to the ground.

Company spokeswoman Sheralee MacDonald said a gate across the access road had been torn off its hinges.

“We think someone has gone up there with the intention of doing something,” she said.

“This is the first time this has happened.

“There has been evidence of someone up here in the past. The gate was tampered with then.”

Windflow has been using readings from the anemometer at the top of the tower to check the accuracy of wind data recorded on its prototype turbine as it strives to get international certification allowing it to sell turbines overseas.

Police were taking fingerprints at the site yesterday.

Windflow chief executive Geoff Henderson has offered a $1000 reward for information that leads to a conviction.

The Gebbies Pass turbine has had a turbulent past.

In March 2005, fierce winds tore out bolts holding the gearbox and blades to the rest of the nacelle on top of the tower.

Two workmen inside the tower narrowly escaped serious injury when the unit fell to the ground and broke into pieces.

Henderson said the vandalism would delay the International Electrotechnical Committee certification by at least two weeks.

“It’s just damned annoying and damned frustrating,” he said.

“It’s quite a few dollars, just down to mindless vandalism.

“This is a pretty inconvenient time for us.

“A couple of weeks might not sound much but we are at a crucial time in terms of the certification process.”

Windflow hoped to be able to make its first international sales towards the end of the year, Henderson said.

By Paul Gorman – The Press


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