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Repair is in the air at Bluegrass Ridge; Wind turbine maker finds flaws in blades, calls for refurbishing  

The Gentry County wind farm’s turbines are undergoing refurbishment in a national retrofitting program initiated after manufacturer Suzlon Energy Limited found cracks in the blades of its S-88 wind turbines.

Leif Andersen, vice president of sales at Suzlon, said the process for correcting the flaw is fairly simple.

“It’s a matter of strengthening some of the fiberglass on the blades,” he said.

The national retrofit program calls for the strengthening of 1,251 wind turbine blades, 930 of which had been installed by March, according to a press release. During repairs, Suzlon will employ temporary replacement blades to minimize the time wind turbines stand inoperable.

The estimated cost of the six-month refurbishing program is $25 million, according to the release.

Mr. Andersen said Suzlon is still investigating the cause of the cracks in the S-88 wind turbine blades. The company’s newer blades, like those now installed in Australia, are operating free of problems, he said.

“I’m not concerned about it,” he said. “I don’t lose any sleep, and I’m responsible for selling these machines.”

Refurbishing the Bluegrass Ridge wind turbines, which are no more than two years old, shouldn’t interfere with electricity generation, said Tony Wyche, spokesperson for Wind Capital Group, owners of Bluegrass Ridge.

“It will not cause any type of disruption of service,” Mr. Wyche said.

He said the refurbishing process at Bluegrass Ridge began last week and will continue through mid-fall.

The wind industry is still relatively new and growing dramatically, so problems are bound to occur, Mr. Andersen said.

“It’s a piece of mechanical equipment that you put up on a 250-foot tower,” he said. “And there’s a lot of stress on the system.”

Mr. Andersen said Suzlon is working closely with customers and that they will be compensated for any loss incurred during the repairs. He said that although refurbishing the wind turbines is annoying, the machines are 20-year investments.

“Once the machines are back up and running again, it will be forgotten,” he said.

The News-Press

12 July 2008

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