Wind Turbine Collapses In Cheyenne, Company Investigating Cause

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An energy company is investigating what caused one of its wind turbines near Cheyenne to collapse recently.

Duke Energy spokeswoman Valerie Patterson told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that the collapse of the turbine west of Cheyenne was reported on Feb. 23, but the company is still investigating the cause.

No one was injured in the incident.

“Things like this take a lot of care to handle, so we’re approaching our removal and cleanup efforts very methodically,” Patterson said. “There are some standards and requirements that must be followed when removing this type of material. We’re taking all the necessary steps and following state and other regulations as part of our efforts.”

She added that after the investigation was completed, the company would make a decision on whether to repair the turbine or replace it completely. There was no timeline on when that would occur, though.

Patterson also said that wind turbines are built to operate anywhere from 20 to 30 years, but this lifespan could vary based on other factors.

Cowboy State Daily Meteorologist Don Day said the collapse appears to have occurred during Wyoming’s most recent “arctic wave,” when low temperatures dropping to 1 degree below zero and persistent fog would have led to surface icing.

Lynn Montoya, a prominent critic of the developing Rail Tie wind project in Albany County, told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that the downed turbine in Cheyenne is another example of the wind power industry trying to hide how unsafe its machinery actually can be.

“From the perspective of the Rail Tie project, a turbine like that coming down could create all kinds of issues in a condensed area like we’re in,” she said.

“There are fires that can happen. There are lots of problems that can happen,” she continued. “The wind turbine industry tries to tell you how these turbines help the community and how safe they are, how environmentally-friendly they are. But they never talk about the downside, which is if they catch fire, of if they come down or if there was an oil spill, and what is the residual effect.”

Duke Energy has managed the turbine site at Happy Jack since 2008 and runs 14 of the 262-foot turbines there currently. The company also operates three other turbine farms in Wyoming: one more in Laramie County and two in Converse County, all of which have been in operation for more than a decade.

Duke provides energy for consumers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Florida.

The Laramie County Sheriff’s Office on Friday told Cowboy State Daily that it had not been contacted about the downed turbine.

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