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Wind turbines in a hurricane

If the BRSA builds its wind turbine, what will happen during a strong hurricane?

In a recent article, “Hurricane Irene and Its Impact on Wind Farms,” David Smith of Infigen Energy, co-owner of the Atlantic City wind farm, states, “Wind turbine blades… are designed to withstand the forecasted winds of Hurricane Irene, so we will not be removing and storing any blades.”

The BRSA wind turbine would stand at 386 feet with 118-foot blades that span an acre. At the height of the blades, storm winds are much stronger than at ground level. Irene was no longer a hurricane by the time it got here, and so Smith’s statement begs that questions be asked and answered concerning BRSA’s emergency plans during strong hurricanes.

Taking Smith at his word, a giant crane and knowledgeable crew would need to be quickly acquired to remove the blades for storage and then reinstall them once the storm has passed. Can this be accomplished on short notice? How massive are these cranes as far as trucking is concerned, and what precautions are needed to truck them on small local roads and bridges? If a crane cannot be quickly secured, what happens if a blade or blades come off or the tower collapses? How much will that cost ratepayers with each hurricane threat?

Given the close proximity to homes and the at-risk sewage infrastructure at BRSA, there is potential for serious damage if a strong hurricane makes landfall. This risk needs to be thoroughly addressed before the state, county, Union Beach and its neighboring towns allow the turbine to be delivered.

Bill Heller

Union Beach, NJ