Leelanau Community Energy’s wind turbine in Northport sits in a heap at the base of its tower after the upper section broke off.
It happened some time between sundown Thursday and sunup Friday, said Douglas McInnis, a manager and investor for Leelanau Community Energy. The company, which owns the turbine, had it offline while awaiting maintenance.
Those maintenance items pertained to electronics, motors and other components involved in the turbine’s operation, McInnis said. None should have caused the tower to break like it did.
He was unsure why the top 25 feet or so of the 163-foot tower broke off and said the company will be in contact with the turbine’s supplier. While some of the internal components were new, the turbine and tower itself had been used when Leelanau Community Energy installed it 12 years ago.
Winds reached 29 mph in Traverse City Thursday, according to provisional National Weather Service data.
“That’s the assumption, that it was probably a gust of wind that broke off the top 25 feet or so,” he said.
Leelanau County Dispatch logs had several reports of downed power lines and trees between Wednesday and Thursday, but no references to the toppled turbine. McInnis said neither law enforcement nor firefighters were called.
The turbine stood atop a hill over Northport’s wastewater treatment plant and, along with some of the company’s solar panels, supplied power to the plant, McInnis said. That plant is connected to the electric grid, so it still has power despite the collapse.
McInnis said Leelanau Community Energy wants to bring in someone to assess the turbine and tower to determine the cause for its collapse.
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