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Operations suspended after blade breaks off wind turbine

WYOMING COUNTY, N.Y. – “My husband and I heard a boom, but we thought it was just the hunters and then we realized it was too loud so we thought it was like a cannon and then there was some rumbling and so we thought, maybe it’s thunder,” said Varysburg resident Ginny Gay.

Gay’s home in Varysburg is surrounded by wind turbines – 58 of them. The General Electric 1.6 megawatt turbines were recently installed by Invenergy at the Orangeville Wind Farm.

The turbines are big. From the base to the tip of an upright blade, they stand at 425 feet tall. Each individual blade is 160 feet long and weighs 200,000 pounds.

The loud noise Ginny woke up to Sunday morning wasn’t thunder or a cannon. It was a blade from a turbine behind her home crashing to the ground.

“I can see it out my back window,” said Gay.

It happened just between Centerline Road and State Route 20A.

Ginny said seeing the blade broken was shocking. The turbines are so new she still has pictures of them being put up.

Since construction on the turbines was only completed recently, the turbines were currently being run through a series of standard and operational tests before they could be considered ready for operation. The testing on this turbine began on Wednesday.

“It certainly wasn’t anything that was predicted,” said Gay.

A spokesperson from Invenergy said: “Out of caution, all turbine commissioning and turbine operations at the wind farm have been suspended. We are working with GE, the turbine manufacturer, to determine the cause of this incident.”

No one was injured on Sunday.

Invenergy has another wind farm in Wyoming County, in Sheldon. It has been operational since 2009.