PERKINS TOWNSHIP – Wind turbines that power Perkins High School are shut down after a blade detached from one of the machines on Monday evening.
No one was hurt when the blade came off the rotating hub of the northernmost turbine, one off three at the school at 3714 Campbell St.
This was the second time in two years the school district had a wind turbine fail due to a problem with blades. The turbine that failed this week was not the one that had earlier problems, officials said.
“At this point we’re going to take a step back, find out what happened and make decisions from there,” Perkins school Superintendent Jim Gunner said.
In this week’s incident, the blade did not break when it hit the ground, said Gunner and David L. Rengel, vice president of Wilkes & Co., which also operates energy consultant Engineered Process Systems Ltd. of Huron. The company installed the turbines, which are manufactured by ReDriven Power Inc. of Iroquois, Ontario.
“One of the blades fell off the attachment bolts,” Rengel said. “It appeared to be sheared off. How it happened, what caused it, I have really no idea.”
A technician from ReDriven was on the way to Erie County yesterday to examine what went wrong, Rengel said.
“They’re the experts,” Rengel said. “We’re installers, but they are the experts on their equipment.”
The wind turbines had been operating as expected, and there were no signs of a strong wind gust or severe weather on Monday evening, Rengel said.
School was not in session when the blade came off about 5:30 p.m., Gunner said. A few students were at the school for swim practice and a parent there first noticed the blade came off, Gunner said. The parent began calling Perkins school board members, and board President Dr. Brian Printy quickly called Gunner.
The blade is part of the third set of blades to be on the turbines, Rengel said.
Perkins schools gained national attention in 2008 when the district and consultant Honeywell Inc. unveiled an energy-saving plan that included three wind turbines to generate electric power for the high school and nearby Briar Middle School on South Avenue.
The three turbines were installed in January 2009, and the district made headlines again the next month when three of the blades came off one of the turbines. The blades broke apart while spinning and the fiberglass pieces sailed up to 40 yards away from the turbine’s monopole tower.
The turbines were stopped, but began spinning again with replacement blades. Finally, ReDriven provided a third set of reinforced blades and those were installed and remained in place until Monday’s incident, Rengel said.
He emphasized the wind turbine industry has a good record of safety and the incident Monday did not include flying fiberglass.
“Pieces didn’t go flying and the wind turbine blade didn’t go flying,” Rengel said. “The blade dropped at the base of the tower.
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