By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
There is still no word on what caused a wind turbine to catch fire over the weekend west of Cheyenne, but the wind farm’s management company said it is investigating.
“A wind turbine at the Roundhouse Wind Energy Center briefly caught fire on Saturday. The fire was out quickly, and no one was injured. Turbine fires are rare. We are currently investigating the cause of this incident,” NextEra Energy Resources, the company that manages the Roundhouse project, said in a statement to Cowboy State Daily.
As of Tuesday, there was still no explanation of what the repair or replacement process or timeline will look like.
“I am very concerned for my safety,” Sherry Birch, who lives near the wind farm, said in a press release over the weekend. “Had this been a drier time of the year, there is nothing that would have prevented this from starting a grass fire and threatening my home.”
According to fire suppression company Firetrace, wind turbines can catch fire because the components fail, which then generates heat or sparks and can ignite flammable materials.
Converter and capacitor cabinets catch on fire most frequently, but they can also start in the turbine’s transformer or in the emergency brake behind the gear box.
Laramie-area resident Paul Montoya, an active opponent of the wind farm, expressed concern earlier this year about the safety of some wind turbines, after blades from two separate turbines in Iowa broke off.
“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,” Montoya told Cowboy State Daily in reference to the Iowa blade problems.
Just two weeks ago, the company announced 200 new NextEra wind turbines have been installed and are fully operational in Converse County.
The Cedar Springs project employed about 400 workers during the project’s construction period and expect to now employ 20 permanent, full time wind technicians.
“This is a $650 million investment in the county. It will generate $115 million in property taxes and $90 million in landowner payments during its life. Converse County and its people have been great to us. This has been a great place for business,” NextEra’s Project Manager Ryan Fitzpatrick said.