Life is returning to the Fenner Wind Farm, one turbine at a time.
A handful of local officials, residents and Enel North America employees watched Thursday morning as three of the farm’s 19 windmills began turning.
“Let’s get them rolling,” Fenner Supervisor Russell Cary said into a walkie-talkie. Within minutes, the blades were spinning – slowly at first, then picking up speed. The remaining turbines will return to service in the coming weeks.
The windmills have stood silent since Dec. 27, when one of the 187-ton behemoths unexpectedly collapsed in the middle of a cornfield.
The unprecedented collapse prompted an investigation to determine what caused it and triggered a shutdown of the wind farm, which, since 2001, had been churning out enough electricity to power a community of about 2,600 .
“We wanted to make sure we did it right and did it safely for the employees, the landowners and the people who live close by,” said Enel North America spokesman Hank Sennott.
So far, the investigation has ruled out shoddy construction and deficiencies in the materials used. Engineers are still looking into historical load, geography, weather and other factors. A full report is expected later this year.
In recent months, crews have reinforced each of the remaining towers’ foundations with 4 to 6 tons of steel and 10 truckloads of concrete.
Enel officials plan to add a kiosk at the Fenner Renewable Energy Education Center explaining the incident.
“A lot of lessons have been learned here,” said Cary, who helped found the center in 2006.
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