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Turbine blade replacement underway in Orangeville

A blade replacement effort is starting this week at the Orangeville Wind Farm, but the exact number remains undisclosed.

The replacements involve what a General Electric spokeswoman describes as “a small subset” of turbine blades at the wind farm, which has 58 turbines.

“Starting this week, for approximately eight weeks, activity is expected to commence in the delivery and replacement of blades at a limited number of wind turbines at the Orangeville Wind Farm,” said Invenergy spokeswoman Alissa Krinsky in a news release.

Invenergy is owner of the Orangeville wind farm; General Electric is manufacturer of the turbine blades.

“Some construction-vehicle traffic can be expected on various local roads, and we appreciate the patience of our project landowners, and others in the community, in this regard,” she continued. “The great majority of turbines at the Orangeville Wind Farm continue to operate normally.”

Invenergy officials declined to comment further, when asked how many blades, and which turbines, were affected. Each blade will take about one days’ work to swap out and replace with a new example.

The replacement blades are being transported to the project site via truck, the officials said. Upon delivery, they may be stored temporarily until installation takes place.

The replacement program follows blade failure on Nov. 17, 2013, at the wind farm’s 34th tower, near Centerline Road and Route 20A. The blade fell to the ground at the base of the turbine and no injuries were reported.

An analysis revealed the break was caused by a spar cap issue, General Electric representatives said in December.

A spar cap is located on both sides of the blade. It essentially gives the blade strength, and is made from composite materials.

About 1.5 percent of GE’s total blade population is potentially affected, officials said at the time.

“The project is in an advanced stage – the great majority of the turbines are operating and don’t need any re-commissioning,” Krinsky said. “For the limited number of turbines that need replacement blades, there’s a range of operational readiness. Therefore, either partial- or full-testing of those turbines will be completed within a few days after the replacement process, on a turbine-by-turbine basis.”