Iberdrola Renewables halted production on the Hardscrabble Wind Farm project Friday after the company discovered its turbines’ foundations do not meet company standards.
The problem was revealed in the course of routine construction testing on the concrete bases of the turbines being built in Fairfield and Norway, Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman said.
“We discovered that for some of the concrete pedestals, the center of the foundation where the towers attach to the foundation did not meet our standard,” Copleman said in an e-mailed statement. “As a precaution, we have decided to temporarily suspend construction of the turbines.”
It was not clear when the construction went awry, when the problems were initially discovered and why Ibderdrola chose Friday to temporarily call it quits on the 37-turbine project.
And little could be learned late Friday about what comes next, or how the halt would affect the project’s timeline and financial outlook.
Copleman said he would only discuss the project through e-mailed correspondence. He did not immediately respond to a series of questions about the specifics of the problem.
Two local officials Friday said they were surprised construction had stopped, but had known for weeks that problems had been found.
Norway Planning Board Chairman Lauren Watson heads the board that approved the Norway component of the farm. He said he was told that the concrete supplied by Saunders Companies cracked sooner than it should have when put under extreme pressure tests.
Specifically in Norway, Watson said he knew of two pedestals that had been removed because of the problem. In both cases, the turbine towers were already partially constructed and had to be taken down so the bases could be removed, he said.
“On the one hand, you can voice disappointment that this has happened,” Watson said. “On the other hand – which is where I am – I think you can gain confidence that Ibderdrola is making sure everything is up to standard. This is all about a worst-case-scenario event.”
Representatives from Saunders, which has concrete plants in Canastota and Oneida, could not be reached late Friday.
Herkimer County Legislator Frederick Shaw, who represents the towns involved, said he also has known about the problems.
“I’m not too concerned,” Shaw said. “These are professional people, and there’s a lot of money involved. I’m sure they’re going to do everything they can to get the problems resolved.”
Copleman said the foundation issues do not pose a safety risk to workers, contractors or the community.
“Iberdrola Renewables remains committed to ensuring that its project meets its high internal standards, and we regularly monitor all facets of construction to ensure that the project is safe for the community,” Copleman said.
The wind farm is set to be home to some of the tallest turbines in the region. The 2.0-megawatt Gamesa turbines measure 322 feet to the center hub and 476 feet to the tip of the blade.
The project was scheduled to be completed by mid-December.
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