Nearly two months after a 187-ton windmill collapsed in a cornfield in Fenner, neighbors, local officials, energy advocates and the wind farm’s other 19 turbines are still waiting for answers.
Turbine 18, which once stood 212 feet from the ground to the center hub and 329 feet to the tip of a blade at its full height, fell to the ground the early hours of Dec. 27, shaking up residents who lived among the giants for nearly a decade and industry officials who had never seen a similar failure.
Officials from Enel North America had hoped to release a report on the accident by the end of January. But the investigation and cleanup process was held up by winter weather conditions which slowed the team of forensic engineers tasked with determining the cause.
Enel spokesman Hank Sennott said samples of the concrete foundation, reinforced steel and soil at the turbine’s base have been sent out for analysis.
In the coming weeks, workers will be performing similar tests on the farm’s other 19 turbines.
“We want to compare what we see in some of the other turbines to what we found at Turbine 18,” Sennott said.
Because the work will involve some excavation, Sennott said turbines under investigation will likely be fenced off to keep residents from getting too close to the heavy equipment.
In the aftermath of the accident, officials were able to determine that Turbine 18 was operating at reasonable speeds before it collapsed by recovering the windmill’s computer, which links to the facility’s monitoring system.
Enel North America oversees about 260 turbines in the United States and Canada. The windmills in Fenner, which have the capacity to power up to 10,000 homes, have been dormant since the accident.
“We’re just as curious us everyone else is to find out what happened and get the turbines started up again,” Sennott said. “But we’re not going to start up the other turbines until we’re convinced we know what happened.”
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