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Turbine collapses, wiring blamed

A “wiring anomaly” was blamed for the collapse earlier this month of a wind turbine near Altona, N.Y., according to Noble Environmental Power, the operator of the wind park.

The 1.5 megawatt turbine, made by General Electric, broke apart on March 6th, and caused a small fire on the ground, as seen in this video from the local NBC affiliate, WPTZ.

According to press reports, the park had experienced a power outage at the time, but two of the 65 turbines malfunctioned and continued to spin at speeds faster than the machines are designed to sustain – until one eventually collapsed.

The park was shut down immediately after the collapse, and Noble noted that while the debris scattered 345 feet from the turbine’s base, that was still less than the local setback requirements. In Altona, turbines must be at least 1,200 feet from a home, and 500 feet from roads.

“Although this incident is extraordinarily rare, it is reassuring to see that the setbacks worked as intended,” said Walt Howard, the chief executive of Noble, according to last week’s press release.

General Electric is testing the other turbines in the park, and turning them back on after making sure they are properly wired.

Samuel Dyer, a councilman in nearby Beekmantown, told the local newspaper, in rather colorful terms, that the Altona incident frightened him. “Excuse my language,” he said.

Beekmantown has decided against turbines of its own.

In England, some imaginative theorists attributed a similar wind-park mishap in January to the work intergalactic aliens, though it was later blamed on “material fatigue.”