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Turbine blades broken: Manufacturer Gamesa Corp. says wind farm plans on hold until solution is determined  

The Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm’s phase one startup has been put on hold because some of Gamesa’s locally made blades are chipping apart.

Gamesa officials, who met with Portage and Washington township officials Wednesday for the go-ahead on a second phase, said they found issues with seven blades after realizing two of them splintered on the towers.

They had hoped to have the first phase online by the end of the month.

“The structure of the blade was intact in most places … it somehow split open and fell,” said Alberto Gros Isla, the plant’s manager.

It wasn’t the blades that fell; rather, it was a “thin fiberglass skin” that coated them, he said.

One piece stretched the length of the 147-foot-blade, and another was at least 20 feet long, Gros Isla said.

They were discovered on farmland the towers were placed on, Gamesa Project Developer Terry Nicol said, adding that there were no injuries.

“Safety is our main factor here. We’re going back to the raw materials, some of them coming from Europe. We’re reviewing the transportation of the blades themselves and the handling of them,” Gros Isla said.

“This is not a new product. We’ve made 30,000 of these blades, and they have been tested and in operation all over the world. These blades were among the 365 or so that have rolled off the Cambria Township plant site,” Gamesa officials said.

Some have been taken as far as Texas.

Gros Isla said the rest of the blades at the Allegheny Ridge Farm were checked out at the site and the seven defective ones are being taken to their local plant for further study.

The farm, currently being turned over to Australian firm Babcock & Brown, was the only site where the problem was discovered, they said.

David Smith, a project developer from Babcock & Brown, said the company is concerned about the blades but is reassured that Gamesa is working hard to find the cause.

“We know this is very rare,” he said. “Gamesa has been doing a wonderful job.”

Gros Isla said ice storms could have been a factor, but probably not the only one.

“It could be some relationship such as handling damage plus the ice storm,” he said, noting the blades are installed in other areas with rapidly changing climates like the ridge tops that separate Cambria and Blair counties. “We have tons of information. We just need to analyze.”

Gamesa officials told township supervisors in Portage and Washington townships that they will be kept informed on the situation.

Nicol said he remained hopeful the farm would be generating power sometime in April.

By David Hurst


22 March 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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