As a damaged wind turbine lays on the ground behind Western Reserve High School where it fell from its tower Sunday afternoon, the district’s two other electricity-generating units sit idle while officials with the company that built them try to determine why this one collapsed.
Superintendent Charles Swindler said “the question is, whether it’s a failure of a product, or whether it’s a design problem.”
The district installed the turbines in 2009, using state funds to cover most of the costs. But the Scottish firm Proven Energy issued a worldwide recall last year to correct a bearing problem discovered in a turbine being used overseas.
The units have been back in service since October, generating roughly a third of the electricity needed by the district, which also uses geo-thermal energy to help keep its utility costs down.
As part of the project, the district also installed monitoring equipment to keep track of both kilowatt hours generated by the turbines as well as wind velocities in the area to make sure the units are doing their job.
For the time being, while the cause of Sunday’s collapse is being investigated, the district’s other turbines will remain shut down as well as a precaution.
And while the windmills have helped reduce the amount of electricity the system has to buy, the Superintendent said the district shouldn’t have to pay for the repairs since state money was used to purchase them. The turbines are covered by a five-year warranty.
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