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GE blade crashes at Mehoopany Wind Farm in Pennsylvania

A blade attached to a GE 1.6 MW wind turbine crashed to the ground during the early morning hours of Nov. 2 at the 141 MW Mehoopany Wind Farm, located in Wyoming County, Pa.

Mehoopany, jointly owned by BP Wind Energy and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, is powered by 88 GE 1.6 MW turbines and has been operational since the fourth quarter of 2012.

According to a statement from BP Americas, there were no injuries associated with the event, nor was any property harmed in the wind farm’s vicinity. The affected wind turbine has been shut down, and an internal review of the incident is under way, notes BP.

Although turbine maker GE confirmed the event, it would not provide many specifics. However, the company maintains that the incident has nothing to do with a series of previous failures with its 48.7-meter blades.

“Our findings thus far indicate this blade event is unrelated to those prior and an isolated incident,” according a GE spokesperson, adding that the turbine model in question is a 1.6 MW machine with a rotor diameter of 82.5 meters. According to the company’s website, the blade length on that turbine is 40.3 meters.

The spokesperson says GE is working with BP, the wind farm’s operator, to identify the root cause of the blade failure.

“Our process is to assign a team to perform a thorough investigation to identify the root cause, take appropriate corrective action and bring the turbine back online as soon as possible,” the GE spokesperson notes.

Last year, the turbine maker investigated blade failures regarding its 48.7-meter model, and the company ultimately pinned the issue to a “spar cap manufacturing anomaly.” GE said it had identified customers whose blades were subject to the manufacturing defect and rolled out a replacement program.

As GE and BP investigate the failed blade at Mehoopany, the wind farm remains the subject of competing lawsuits stemming from construction of the $250 million project.

The wind farm’s balance-of-plant contractor, RES Americas, claims the project’s owners still owe it more than $55 million in additional expenses. The contractor says it accrued the extra expenses in a rush to complete Mehoopany by year-end 2012 in order to qualify for the expiring production tax credit.

The project owners subsequently filed a lawsuit against RES Americas in Texas, seeking up to $32 million in damages. BP said it would not comment on pending litigation.

When reached for comment following the Mehoopany blade failure, a spokesperson for RES Americas would only say, “RES Americas has not been contacted by the owner/operator of this project regarding this incident.”