May 2, 2017

Fairhaven wind turbine catches fire

By Beth David, Editor | Fairhaven Neighborhood News | April 27, 2017 |

Fairhaven’s north turbine suffered a setback when a component blew out and caught fire on April 7. According to the fire department report, just before 3:30 p.m., a public works employee heard a “bang” and saw smoke coming from one of the wind turbines (WT), which are off Arsene Street, near the public works depart­ment, treatment plant and recycle center.

The fire department responded, but saw nothing suspicious on arrival. Firefighters learned from William Baldwin of Baldwin Energy Services that a maintenance worker was working on equipment on the top of the turbine. When he re-energized the equipment, a fire broke out.

Sumul Shah, of Lumus Construc­tion and Solaya Renewable Energy, which installed the wind turbines and continues to operate the project, con­firmed most of the information in the report.

He said that when the maintenance worker re-energized the turbine, it caused “little spark” at the electrical connection in the power converter.

The worker immediately put out the flame with a fire exinguisher. Mr. Shah said that the part will be sent out for servicing and that will, hopefuly, determine what went wrong.

“The guys knew exactly what to do,” said Mr. Shah, adding that it was no big deal, but there was a lot of smoke. ‘It made it look worse because it caused a lot of smoke.”

The worker put out the fire, opened the hatches and let the smoke clear out. He stayed inside the turbine until things were “cool to the to touch.”

The fire department did not have to enter the turbine.

“They just monitored the situation and spoke to our maintenance worker,” said Mr. Shah. “And that was it.”

He said no one got hurt, no one was in danger. There were two maintenance workers, one at the top of the turbine and one at the bottom.

The work was on the power converter, not the fuses, said Mr. Shah, clearing up a point of confusion. The fuses are at the bottom of the WT, the converter is at the top.

“This has nothing to do with any fuses below,” said Mr. Shah. “He was doing work on the converter, the fuses are down tower. This was up tower. Totally unrelated.”

He said people have noticed that the south tower has been down on occasion. It is the south tower that has had issues with blown fuses, not the north tower, which is where the fire happened.

The company has a spare power converter, he said, unfortunately, it was already out for refurbishing. He said they are waiting for a part for that one and it will be installed, hopefully next week. The damaged one will then be sent out and will act as a spare. Mr. Shah said that the compnay has other spare power converters, but they need to be tested before they can be used. It is just as quick to wait for the one that was already in the middle of being rebuilt.

Mr. Shah said he could not estimate what the incident will cost the company. The part is a minimal amount, and the labor is also not much, he said. The big hit comes from the WT not producing power for more than two weeks.

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