MidAmerican Energy has cleared some wind turbines back into operation at the Eclipse Wind Farm in southwest Guthrie and southeast Audubon counties after a 150′ blade crashed to the ground sometime April 4 near the Laverne Kommes farm on 310th Street, approximately five miles northwest of Adair.
Although it is not the first case of a turbine blade breaking off an industrial-sized wind mill in the United States, it is the first such occurrence in Iowa.
The wind farm was constructed in 2012, going into energy production late last fall. Guthrie County’s portion of the project, which includes 60 turbines, had an estimated total cost of $189 million, just over $3 million per tower.
Although the wind farm is now owned by MidAmerican Energy, the turbines, which are still under warranty, were originally engineered and manufactured by Siemens Energy.
Siemens Energy media manager Melanie Forbrick, based in Orlando, Florida, did not respond to initial phone or e-mail queries left last week by the Times. However, Monday morning, Forbrick e-mailed the following statement regarding the broken blade:
“Siemens Energy is conducting a detailed engineering analysis to determine the root cause… including the production, installation, commissioning and service of the blade… However, since the root cause has not yet been finally determined… Siemens will inspect other wind turbine blades made during the same time period as the affected blade.”
When asked for a photograph of the broken blade root, Forbrick informed the Times she could not “due to the proprietary nature of our blade design.”
MidAmerican shut the wind farm down after the incident for the safety inspections, but on Monday, some turbines were once again operating.
Tuesday morning, the Times asked both Forbrick and MidAmerican media relations manager Tina Potthoff what was specifically inspected on the remaining turbines, given the fact “no root cause” of the blade break has been determined, to ensure farmers working in their fields near the towers are safe?
As of press time Wednesday, neither had replied.
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