TRIPP – An investigation continues into Wednesday’s tipping over of a crane – believed to be 600 feet in height – at a $297 million wind farm near Tripp.
The Prevailing Wind Park, scheduled for completion later this year, is permitted for 61 turbines producing a maximum of 219.6 megawatts. The project will cover about 50,000 acres in Charles Mix, Bon Homme and Hutchinson counties.
sPower, a wind and solar energy company, is working with the project. The crane that tipped was used for installation of wind turbines, which will generally be located north of Avon and southwest of Tripp.
In terms of weather, the Yankton region didn’t sustain any major high winds Wednesday.
Construction manager Scott Creech confirmed an incident occurred Wednesday in Bon Homme County. However, he declined to provide more details on what caused the tipping of the crane, which was shown lying on the ground in social media photos.
“There are no reported injuries at this time,” he said. “We’re working with the landowner, and we are under intensive investigation of the incident.”
The investigation has been undertaken “by the parties involved,” he said, declining to list the parties or what was under scrutiny. In addition, he declined to say whether the tipped-over crane would affect the progress on the wind farm and its projected December completion.
Creech also declined to confirm the crane’s height. However, Ronnie Hornstra, president of Prevailing Wind LLC, has told the Press & Dakotan “two of the only three mammoth cranes this size in the United States are on the project.”
Creech referred all further questions on Wednesday’s accident to sPower spokeswoman Lara Hamsher.
She replied Wednesday night, saying sPower officials were continuing to work on details. “We are still gathering additional facts about this incident,” she said.
Hamsher said she was referring the Press & Dakotan to sPower vice president Peter Pawloski for specific project details.
Bon Homme County Sheriff Mark Maggs told the Press & Dakotan his office wasn’t conducting an investigation into Wednesday’s incident.
“There is nothing criminal to investigate, and the incident occurred on private property,” he said. “sPower officials are conducting their own investigation into the incident. I would refer you to them for any details.”
Sioux Falls television station KDLT reported the incident occurred around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday on the construction site. sPower officials told the television station that the accident happened while the crane was moving between turbines.
The Press & Dakotan sought response from South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) members Gary Hanson, Chris Nelson and Kristie Fiegen.
The PUC members are aware of the accident at the Prevailing Wind Park construction site, a commission spokeswoman said Wednesday night.
“The project’s public liaison officer notified PUC staff about the crane incident today (Wednesday),” said Leah Mohr, the PUC’s deputy executive director.
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