CHANDLER TOWNSHIP – Starting June 8 and continuing over the next two months, 14 turbines will be repaired at DTE Energy’s Echo Wind Park.
Initially, 33 turbines were slated for replacement at the wind park, which was shut down in November because of a broken wind turbine blade in Chandler Township. The company that provides the blades – General Electric, the country’s largest manufacturer of wind turbine parts – said the cause of the failure was a manufacturing anomaly.
Quality reports reviewed by DTE, GE and a private consultant hired by DTE showed 14 blades were in substandard condition, and reviewers found reports that cleared the remaining 19 turbines, Serafin said.
“Now we’re just down to 14,” Serafin said. “The blades are here, they’re going to come in the week of June 8.”
One crane is currently in position on Crown Road between Farver and Maxwell roads in Chandler Township. Another crane will be delivered in the coming week and placed to the east of the initial crane on Crown Road between Farver and North Elkton roads.
“One will be assembling the blades, and another will be assembling a crane,” Serafin said. “The first seven will be all new blades, the second seven will be recombining all the good blades.”
But not all 70 turbines at the park may be in operation after repairs. Instead, DTE is building another substation south of Pigeon Road near Grassmere Road to handle power generated from the park.
“We only have capacity to put 50 megawatts of the 110 onto the grid,” Serafin said. “Once that substation is built, we can run at full capacity.”
The scheduled completion date for repairs is mid-August. At that point, all turbines may be operating at a reduced capacity, or “we may elect to just run certain ones,” Serafin said.
Residents living in the area can expect to see one crane in the air and about 15 to 25 workers making repairs. The scene will be “much less active or hectic” than when the park was built, when close to 200 employees were on site with trucks and tractors coming and going, Serafin said.
“Occasionally, you’ll see the crane boom up,” he said. “Typically, they can take a rotor down, disassemble the blades and have the rotor back up within a day or two. It takes about 20 semis to move all the crane parts. It’s really not going to be that noticeable.
“If you happen to notice (the crane), you will stop because it’s pretty impressive to see the huge blades go up.”
During Tuesday’s board of commissioners meeting, Board Chairman Clark Elftman asked Serafin of the fate of non-functioning blades.
“There was a gentleman who made the comment that they’re going to take those blades down and throw them in the ditch,” Elftman said. “You’re not going to do that?”
Serafin said the blades will be destroyed, with the exception of the root, mid-section and tip of a blade to be donated to three educational institutions, per the request of the planning commission.
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