Laramie Wind Project Protestors Concerned About Turbine Blades Breaking

With reports of wind turbine blades breaking and falling off, some protestors of an Albany County wind project point to that as another example that state and local regulations need to be reconsidered.

Ellen Fike

October 22, 20203 min read

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Critics of an Albany County wind farm are pointing to reports of wind turbine blade failures in Iowa as proof that additional state and local regulations on the turbines need to be considered.

In Iowa, two blades have broken off of turbines in the span of two months, something Paul and Lynn Montoya and Jennifer Kirchhoffer have taken notice of.

The Montoyas and Kirchhoffer are members of Albany County for Smart Energy Development, an organization looking to change Albany County’s current wind energy regulations.

The group feels existing rules do not adequately protect the area’s natural resources or ensure the health, safety and quality of life of residents, businesses and recreational users in proximity of energy facilities.

According to the Des Moines Register, MidAmerican Energy (which is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, billionaire Warren Buffet’s company) has said the blades broke somewhere along their length, not at the base.

However, the company has paused 46 wind turbines that have blades like the ones that have broken in the last two months.

“Looking at the abnormally close distance of the turbines of the new Roundhouse turbine plant west of Cheyenne, I worry for our Wyoming residents said,” Paul Montoya told Cowboy State Daily in referrence to the Iowa blade problems.

“This [story] only highlights the fact that setback distances in many counties in Wyoming are obsolete based on the new, much larger turbines being installed,” he said.

The broken blades in Iowa were more than 170 feet long and weighed around 18,000 pounds.

Last week, a technician found that a blade had fallen into a field in Greene County, Iowa. Another blade broke off a turbine and fell into a cornfield in Adair County, Iowa in September.

The company also had other problems with blades breaking, including one incident in April and another in October 2019, also in Adair County, but at a different MidAmerican wind farm than the incident in September.

A statement to the Des Moines Register this week assigned the blame for the failure to Danish turbine manufacturer Vestas, the largest wind turbine company in the world.

PacifiCorp, which is developing wind projects in various areas of Wyoming, including Carbon and Laramie counties, is using Vestas to manufacture the turbines for its wind farms.

In July, the ACSED delivered a petition to the Albany County board of commissioners in regards to the wind project being developed near Tie Siding.

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Ellen Fike