NextEra Energy is investigating the toppling of a wind turbine south of Fleming Wednesday.
Steve Stengel, a spokesman for NextEra, said the company is looking into what caused the mast of the 300-foot turbine to buckle.
Emergency responders first were notified late Wednesday afternoon that blades were falling off of a wind turbine in the Niyol Wind Farm near the intersection of County Roads 16 and 59, roughly 10 miles southeast of Sterling. When they arrived the found that the mast had buckled in half and the nacelle and blades were on the ground.
Stengel said it is too early to know what caused the failure, but noted that it’s extremely rare for a turbine to fall over like that.
“We don’t know the root cause, and of course we’re looking into that,” Stengel said. “The rest of the site is operating normally. We have thousands of (turbines) in our fleet, but it is a rare occurrence for this to happen.”
Stengel said it’s not yet known how long it will take to remove the damaged turbine and replace it, but that it would be done.
“As you know, this involves some very large pieces of equipment that have to be moved around, so we don’t know how soon (the turbine) can be replaced, but it will be done,” he said.
It’s hard to know exactly how often wind turbines fail, but a commonly-cited statistic, originated by Engineering News-Record, is that, in any given year, about 3,800 turbines suffer blade, generator or gearbox failure. That’s less than one-half of one percent of the total number of turbines in the U.S. Those failures rarely result in catastrophic damage to the turbines, according to ENR.
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