BAD AXE — DTE Energy officials told the Huron County Planning Commission they anticipate replacing a broken wind turbine blade in Sigel Township next week.
Next Friday is the target date for the exchange, explained DTE Senior Manager Dennis Buda, during Wednesday’s Huron County Planning Commission meeting.
In the meantime, Rooney Contracting will be preparing the area for the exchange. Rooney is expected to be done by 4 p.m. Tuesday.
On Wednesday morning, eight cranes from Patrick Jeffers Construction will come in under the direction of GE, and make sure the new blade is “hook ready” within 48 hours. GE manufactured the wind turbines in DTE’s wind farms, and the blade is currently under warranty by GE.
The new blade will be coming from Garden City, Kan.
Buda said that DTE has received permission from the landowners to operate on the turbine, and Rooney Construction will take care of cleanup once the exchange is complete.
DTE and GE are still trying to determine what caused the turbine to break March 11 during a low-wind period at DTE Energy’s Thumb Wind Park.
Scott L. Simons, DTE Energy spokesman, previously told the Tribune that the utility received an alarm at 1 a.m., and later found that one of the blades at the Sigel site appeared to be damaged. Part of a blade had fallen and was on the ground.
DTE Energy officials and representatives from GE, which is the turbine’s manufacturer, were on site that week investigating the broken blade. Simons previously noted it’s hard to predict when the investigation will wrap up, as each investigation is different.
“GE will be leading the investigation because it’s their equipment,” Simons had told the Tribune.
Katelyn Buress, a spokeswoman from GE’s Renewable Energy business, previously told the Tribune that GE believes the broken blade is an isolated incident.
Last year, two GE-manufactured turbines experienced broken blades in East Central Illinois. The Paxton Record, of Paxton, Ill., reported in March that Lindsay Theile, a spokeswoman with GE’s Renewable Energy business, stated an “isolated manufacturing issue” caused the turbine blades to break.
The first break occurred last June, and the second was in November. Theile told the Paxton Record that GE has “addressed the manufacturing issue to prevent this from happening in the future.”
Both of those broken blades appear to resemble the one in Sigel Township. However, Buress previously told the Tribune that it’s unknown whether a manufacturing issue caused the break in Sigel Township.
As for where the turbines in Illinois and Sigel Township were manufactured, that is not public information. Buress previously explained that GE designs its turbines from top to bottom, but it goes to different suppliers to manufacture the various turbine components. She said GE does not disclose the name of those suppliers.
Buress previously noted she’s not sure how long the analysis will take, but the cause of the break should be determined before additional wind turbines are erected in the area.
GE couldn’t immediately begin work to replace the broken turbine in Sigel Township because seasonal weight limits were in effect at the time of the break. Now that the limits have been lifted, work was able to start to replace the broken turbine.
The broken blade in Sigel Township is on a turbine on Parisville Road near Learman Road.
There are 40 turbines in that township, which is one of the three locations in DTE’s Thumb Wind Park. Minden and McKinley townships host the other sites in the 69-turbine park, which was officially dedicated last October.
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