November 10, 2012

Wind shift damages turbine

By Julie Clements | El Dorado Times | Nov. 9, 2012 |

The question

Why is the wind turbine not turning when the wind has been blowing lately? It seems like it is stopped more than it is running. Also, one blade looks like it is broken. What happened to it?

The Answer

The wind turbine is not turning presently after receiving damage from a wind storm that came through the area a couple of weeks ago.

“There was a cold front that came through two weeks ago,” said Kurt Bookout, public utilities director. “During the night we had the wind switch from 35 to 45 out of the south to 50 to 60 out of the north in the middle of the night.”

As the wind turbine was turning into the wind the blade tips deployed and flaired out as a braking mechanism. That caused one of the tips to break.

The next morning, they found the broken tip laying near the base of the turbine.

“Since that time we are planning to remove the other blade tip and make sure it is OK,” Bookout said.

They have located a local company that can do the repair work so they should not have to send the part off to be repaired.

“There is supposed to be a crew out to remove the other blade tip in a couple of weeks,” he said. “They also will look at the socket this one plugs into and check it out.”

While there is a warranty on the installation of the turbine, this did not fall into any problems with the installation. Since the company that made the turbine, Nordic, is out of business, the city will have to pay for the repairs.

But, about a week before the dedication ceremony, the Department of Energy called the city and said they were going to award the city an additional $195,000 of grant money for the project.

“We’re very fortunate to get this additional grant money,” Bookout said.

While he said the setback was disappointing in the short term, in the big scheme of things they have an additional $200,000 they didn’t think they were going to receive and over the life of the turbine it will save the city $5 to $8 million.

“The week or two it was producing it had good power and was over producing so we were selling back to Westar,” Bookout said.

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