Repairs are about to get underway on a wind turbine at the Eastern Kings Wind Farm, as officials try to determine the exact cause of the damage that took place in the days following a strong windstorm in November.
“We really don’t know what happened. It was a catastrophic failure,” said Heather MacLeod, manager of energy assets with the PEI Energy Corporation. “Two blades came down. One was cracked … we’ll have to wait for the experts to get here and take a look.”
The first of three replacement blades arrived by truck Friday, along with repair crews sent by the turbine manufacturer. Traffic was slowed in Charlottetown as the 44-metre blade was gently towed along Charlottetown’s bypass highway on a flat-bed trailer.
Repairs will cost about $2.5 million, according to MacLeod. Inspection of the damaged blades may determine who foots the bill.
“We don’t know yet whether this will be an insurance claim or whether there’s a good chance it may be covered through warranty with the manufacturer,” MacLeod said.
For now, the damaged blades remain in place, still attached to the hub of the turbine 80 metres off the ground. Crews from Vestas, the manufacturer, and from the energy corporation’s insurance company will conduct inspections of the damaged blades after they are removed and lowered to the ground.
“As the investigation is still ongoing, we can’t comment to the root cause, however preliminary indications are that this is a single isolated incident,” said Chanté Condit-Pottol, communications specialist with Vestas, in a written statement sent to CBC News. Vestas is contracted by P.E.I. to operate and service the wind farm.
MacLeod said damage has happened before, but it’s not common. “We expect to see some damage. It’s like any mechanical object. It takes a lot of stress and winds are high, but they’re built to withstand that. So we’ll have to wait and see.”
Two more blades are slated to arrive Tuesday.
Work crews will be looking for calm, windless days ahead so they can get started on repairs, MacLeod said.
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