COPENHAGEN – A turbine blade in the Copenhagen Wind Farm was a casualty of an intermittent but severe thunder and lightning storm that swept across Lewis County on Wednesday morning.
The damaged turbine is on Moser’s Mapleridge Farm, 3981 Wilson Rd., although the blade damage can be seen from nearby state Route 26.
At about 9:30 a.m., a text came to April Moser’s phone from her husband Vaughn Moser, saying he and some men moving drums of maple syrup heard a crack after which part of a blade came off the turbine. The blade can be seen above their cow barn’s metal roof.
One of the drum movers managed to pull out his phone and take a video of the final few yards of the broken blade’s fall.
“He said he thought it was lightning,” Mrs. Moser said of her husband’s assessment of what had happened to the turbine.
Commenters on the farm’s Facebook page after Mr. Moser posted photos of the turbine with two full blades and a stub about one-quarter of the length of the others, suggested that the intense wind may have been the culprit, but Mr. Moser balked, noting their farm has experienced more intense wind with no impact on the blades.
“I was heading towards W. Lowville around that time when I saw a large bolt strike somewhere on top of the hill… good possibility that was it. Definitely a crazy storm!” said Facebook commenter Nick An Renee Loomis, lending a vote to the lightning strike theory.
The break left a jagged edge on the nub remaining attached to the turbine’s body.
Lightning and severe wind are common causes of turbine blade damage, according to online wind industry and scientific journals, despite most turbines now being manufactured with copper in the blades that is grounded directly into the earth to avoid lightning strikes.
Sandi Briner, senior vice president of communications for EDF Renewables, the parent company for the wind farm, confirmed in a written statement that a “fault alarm” on the turbine notified wind technicians in the site area that there was a problem at about 8:50 a.m.
A team went to the site, confirmed the damage and secured the access road leading to “turbine 30,” as the impacted turbine is designated.
The 80 megawatt Copenhagen Wind Farm consists of 40 turbines throughout Denmark. The turbines are 495 feet tall with 117-foot blades.
No one was injured by the falling blade.