SEARSBURG – A Green Mountain Power spokeswoman said that while there are pieces from a failed wind turbine on the company’s Searsburg site, they present no danger to the public and one large piece is being kept there because it may be needed later.
Justin Lindholm, of Mendon, in a letter printed in Sunday’s Rutland Herald, said he had been on a service road between wind turbines and had seen large pieces of a wind turbine that had failed and broken apart on the ground and suspended from a tree. Lindholm accused Green Mountain Power of “creating a dump” at the site.
Dorothy Schnure, a spokeswoman for Green Mountain Power, said there was a large piece that was the steel “root,” or base, of a wind turbine blade. Because those blades are not made anymore, company officials decided to keep the large piece as a potential replacement part or a model for a part if needed.
Schnure also acknowledged that some wreckage from a failed turbine, which was the “skin” of one of the turbine blades, was hanging about 20 feet from the ground in a tree. She said that piece was relatively lightweight fiberglass and that those who tend to the site were hoping the wind would knock it down.
Green Mountain Power crews likely will be taking down that piece soon, she added.
Schnure said Green Mountain Power officials didn’t believe they were shirking their responsibility as stewards of the land. She said the large blade piece was stored near other power generation equipment and the fiberglass hanging from the tree wouldn’t be seen by members of the public unless they were on the access road owned by the company.
Lindholm on Monday said he stands by his criticism of the conditions at the site.
“It looks like an airplane wreck. They have crud all over the ground. … This is not how a multimillion-dollar company should behave,” he said.
According to Schnure, the wind power facility in Searsburg was built in 1997 with the help of the Department of Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute for the purpose of studying power generation using wind turbines in colder climates.
At the time the turbines were built, Schnure said, the technology to protect them from lightning was not as advanced as it is now. Some of the blades on the turbines had to be repaired or replaced after they were hit by lightning.
The pieces on the Searsburg mountain come from a turbine that used a repaired blade. Schnure said that when the “tail end” of a hurricane came through the area in 2008, the repaired blade failed in the high winds and hit the tower of the turbine.
According to Schnure, Green Mountain Power crews took down that turbine completely.
However, the company was able to find a replacement turbine recently, and Schnure said she expected tests would be finished on it soon. Once the turbine, which Schnure said had been in storage before being purchased by Green Mountain Power, is put to use, the company will have 11 turbines in operation on the site again.
While Green Mountain Power acknowledged the pieces of the turbine were on its grounds, Schnure said they were on land owned by the company which controls access to the site. Public tours are offered of the Searsburg site, but Schnure said the public wouldn’t be in danger because of the equipment on the grounds.
Lindholm said that while he doesn’t “expect a medal,” he thinks Green Mountain Power should be grateful the conditions were brought to its attention. Lindholm, who was active in the opposition to the proposed Ira wind project, said he considers himself a watchdog but denied that he is anti-wind turbine.
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