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Work continues at leaning Ferndale turbine

Work continues to determine the cause and find a solution for a turbine that is leaning in Ferndale.

A couple of weeks ago it was discovered that the turbine was listing slightly and work began last week to stabilize the structure, which is one of three turbines that are part of the development near the small community on the Bruce Peninsula.

“The root cause of the original tilting is still under investigation,” said Aaron Boles, vice-president of communications and investor relations with Capstone Infrastructure, which owns the development. “The unusual nature of the situation really demands that any conclusions about the cause of the issue or the best fix of it be thoroughly and, by the engineers, carefully considered before definitive steps are taken or definitive pronouncements are made.”

Capstone first became aware of the problem a couple of weeks ago when electronic communications with the turbine were interrupted and members of a maintenance crew sent to assess the situation noticed that the turbine appeared to be leaning.

Engineers were immediately sent to the site and confirmed the turbine was leaning.

Last week, engineers from Capstone, as well as the turbine’s manufacturer Vestas and other consulting engineers were on site working to determine the cause of the lean and to find out if the turbine could be righted and put back into operation.

Boles said Friday that work continues.

“Throughout the next several weeks you are going to see engineers and equipment there – through the month of May – working to come up with their permanent fix,” Boles said. “It has been low wind resources and the forecast for the next few weeks calls for continued low wind conditions so that enables the engineers to conduct their testing.”

The turbine has been tethered to stabilize it and is offline, while the other two turbines at the site had been inspected and were operating as normal.

“The stabilization measures taken to date have been effective,” said Boles. “I think anybody driving by to date would see the turbine remains secure in place.”

The company has said people and structures in the area are safe. The turbine is 115 metres high, while the closest structure is 400 metres away and the closest road is 900 metres from the turbine. Twenty-four hour security has been placed at the site.

The affected turbine was one of the first to achieve commercial operation in all of Ontario when it began producing power in November 2002. The two other turbines at the site began operation in October 2006.

Capstone Infrastructure took ownership of the Ferndale wind power facility in 2013 when it acquired Renewable Energy Developers Inc.