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Bearing bad luck in Brinston

BRINSTON – At likely considerable cost, EDP Renewables aborted the planned fix of a failed main bearing at one of its South Branch Wind Farm turbines last March because of an apparent planning snafu involving the imposition of half-load restrictions in South Dundas.

To disassemble the main hub from the affected tower, the developer brought in a large crane and other equipment – only to ship it all back out again without attempting the repair, shortly before half-load restrictions were due to come into place in March.

The failed unit now reportedly won’t be replaced until later this year, along with a second and possibly third turbine whose main bearings require similar attention. The units went into service a little more than a year ago. While covered by a Siemens warranty, the manufacturer did not reply when asked by The AgriNews if it intended to pay for equipment shipping costs related to EDP’s unaccomplished repair.

In an email, United Counties of SD&G roads engineer Ben De Haan acknowledged his department “has concerns” about the movement of equipment in and out of Brinston to make the fixes.

SD&G alone has already received $1.7-million in mutually agreed compensation from EDP Renewables for damage incurred to county roads during the project’s original construction phase.

Of the more recent logistical challenges that prompted EDP to prematurely pull its equipment from the Oak Valley Rd. site, de Haan explained, “Prior to the start of half loads, we did have extensive discussions with the proponent, and the reason they did not continue the repairs through the half-load season is due to the fact that they would have been responsible for additional road testing and financial compensation to offset any damage as a result of their work.

The county engineer continued, “The equipment (mobile cranes) that had been brought to the site to complete the repairs were permitted to use county roads through an annual permit. The annual permit governs the maximum weight, and those issued an annual permit must limit their weight to five tonnes an axle during the half-load season.

“Prior to the start of half loads, the proponent indicated that they were able to respect the weight limits permitted in the annual permit by bringing the crane components in separately (i.e., the counterweights, jibs and other accessories are all brought in on individual loads).”

However, it turned out that EDP “could not meet half-load restrictions,” according to de Haan, “hence the need to leave the site. Had they waited any longer, the crane would have been stuck in the field until June!”