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‘Runaway’ wind turbine poses possible threat to Akron, IA community

Akron, IA – It was a Tuesday morning unlike most as Dwaine Wilmot of Akron, Iowa noticed something that hadn’t happened in years.

“I look up there and sure enough, it’s spinning when it definitely shouldn’t have been.”

Akron-Westfield Community School’s idle turbine was spinning fast but with its backside to the wind.

Wilmot, the turbine’s site manager said somehow the blades rotated to catch the wind.

He guesses the overall brake system failed.

“So it was free to spin at will without anything controlling it. None of the censors were activated to return the pitch or apply the brake.”

Such a case is called a *”runaway wind turbine” and can lead to some dangerous situations like debris flying through the air, putting those in the area in danger.

In this case, a potential grass fire could have started due to friction and oils in the turbine.

The school initially started using the turbine in 1998 but stopped in 2009.

Over the years it’s cost the school over a million dollars to operate, but the school hopes to keep it alive, salvaging what they can for investors.

“An ideal offer would be we give you the turbine, you remove, remediate the land. That’s what we’re looking to do. We’re just looking to break even,” said Randy Collins, Akron-Westfield Superintendent.

The turbine has since slowed down.

The school is hoping to call engineer crews in on a day with minimal wind speed, so they can safely figure out the problem.

[video available]