Tag archive

wind turbines

Duke Energy: No Answers Yet On Why 262-Foot Wind Turbine Collapsed Near Cheyenne

in Energy/News
17904

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An energy company is continuing to investigate the collapse of one of its wind turbines near Cheyenne last month, an event a University of Wyoming expert called very rare.

Duke Energy spokeswoman Valerie Patterson told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that the investigation being conducted is a detailed and deliberative process so company officials will be able to understand what happened, learn from the incident and prevent it from happening again.

“Cleanup efforts are being conducted by site personnel, our engineering team and a third-party engineering firm,” she said. “A complete and thorough cleanup of the area will be done to restore the area to its original condition.”

The 262-foot turbine collapsed in late February. No one was injured.

Patterson previously told Cowboy State Daily that after the investigation was completed, Duke officials would decide whether to repair or replace the turbine. There was no timeline on when that would occur, though.

Wind turbines are built to operate anywhere from 20 to 30 years, but the lifespan could vary.

University of Wyoming Professor Jonathan Naughton, director of the Wind Energy Research Center, told Cowboy State Daily that the likelihood of a wind turbine failing catastrophically is low.

“I’ve only heard of two ‘catastrophic’ incidents happening in Wyoming since these wind turbines went in, this one on Happy Jack and one other,” he said. “There are about 1,500 turbines in Wyoming, so one failure out of 1,500, that’s not a bad number from an industry perspective.”

Naughton added that turbines are not 100% perfect, and malfunctions will and do happen, although they are not usually severe enough to cause a turbine collapse.

He pointed out that no engineered system is 100% perfect, either.

“The overall damage from a turbine falling is pretty small and it’s mainly damages to the owner/operator,” he said. “It’s very unlikely it will hurt somebody. I’ve never heard of an occasion where a wind plant had a failure that had some kind of impact on somebody standing underneath it. They’re just not designed to do.”

Duke Energy has managed the turbine site at Happy Jack since 2008 and runs 14 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.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wind Turbine Collapses In Cheyenne, Company Investigating Cause

in News/wind
17594

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

192 New Wind Turbines Fully Operational in Converse County

in News/wind
7928

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Cinthia Stimson, Douglas Budget

DOUGLAS — Wind turbines – majestic, metallic, monolithic giants – stand in intermittent long lines across the bare, winter windswept Wyoming landscape just a few miles outside of Douglas.

There are a lot of them – 192, to be exact – changing the usual landscape visuals folks are used to seeing between WYO59 and WYO93. 

WYO 59 cuts through the middle of the 499-foot tall towers, their blades slowly, methodically rotating as they create 533 megawatts of wind generated electricity.

NextEra Energy Resources’ $650 million Cedar Springs Wind Farm, phases I, II and III – are online and fully operational as of Dec. 11, according to NextEra’s Project Manager Ryan Fitzpatrick. 

The company broke ground on the project in October 2019, and had cited Dec. 31 as their completion date. 

“We have achieved commercial operation at Cedar Springs. We were able to finish the final turbines last Friday,” Fitzpatrick said.

As well as changing the lay of the land along the turbines’ route, people may also notice the towers’ safety lights on at night. 

However, that’s about to change, Fitzpatrick said, as the Aviation Detection Lighting System (ADLS) installed on the turbines essentially have to learn when not to go on for every little movement the radar detects. 

“We installed five radars out there around the project which detect aircraft with three miles of the boundary. Once the system is normalized, the lights will only come on when aircraft are detected,” he said.

“The radar detects all kinds of movement right now – highway (traffic), trains, birds, livestock. Any type of movement like that triggers the lights. They’ll mask certain movements but sometimes it will take several months to normalize,” Fitzpatrick said.

“Some sites are faster, but when all of this is said and done, the lights will be off more than on, less than 10% of the night. With the ADLS systems installed we are required to have a light on every turbine. That’s quite a few lights, 192 of them,” he said. 

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. 

NextEra Energy Resources owns CS 1 and 3, while PacifiCorp now owns and operates CS 2, Fitzpatrick said. 

Converse County has benefitted from having Cedar Springs built within its boundaries, with tax revenues from the wind farm helping offset the bust of the oil economy and effects of the coronavirus pandemic hitting at the same time. 

“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,” Fitzpatrick said. 

While the massive construction push at Cedar Springs is now over, work is still ongoing as the company concentrates on reclamation and wrapping up the project’s last threads. 

“It was a large project. We’re proud to get it done on time, especially with the difficult economic times this year and the ongoing pandemic.

“Counties with wind energy projects this year are seeing sales tax revenue which is very helpful to (them). Certainly it’s been a good year for us, but helping the communities weather the economic storm this year . . . it feels good to help. 

“Construction on this project may be over, but our relationship with Converse County is just beginning. We will be here for the next 30 years or longer. We’re hoping for an even larger presence in the county with more development and future commercial opportunities, as well as continuing to expand,” Fitzpatrick said. 

Concerns do arise regarding what to do with blades once their life spans have expired. 

Fitzpatrick said NextEra has teams dedicated to finding methods of recycling turbine components to avoid putting any parts or pieces into landfills. 

“We’re working locally on some pretty creative ways to recycle blades and turbine components. We’re finding alternate uses and the best ways to recycle when the operational life is complete,” he said. 

For now, take a drive north on HWY59 and witness Wyoming’s wind power the Cedar Springs turbines, turning a free commodity into electricity.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wind turbine blades being disposed of in Casper landfill

in Energy/News
Decommissioned windmill blades
Windmill fan blades and motor housing components wait for disposal at the Casper Regional Landfill. Some 1,000 pieces from decommissioned wind turbines will be disposed of at the CRL by 2020, bringing an estimated $675,485 in new revenue to the landfill. (Photo courtesy of the Casper Regional Landfill staff)
1774

By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily 

The Casper landfill will soon be the home of more than 1,000 decommissioned wind turbine blades and motor housing units. 

According to Cindie Langston, solid waste manager for the Casper Regional Landfill, the materials will be deposited in an area of the landfill designed to hold construction and demolition material. 

CRL is one of the few landfills with the proper permits and certifications to accept the decommissioned turbine materials. 

The turbine disposal project, which started this summer, is slated to continue until the spring of 2020, bringing the CRL estimated revenue of $675,485. Such “special waste projects” bring in about $800,000 a year, which helps keep CRL rates low, Langston said.

The wind turbine components are being delivered by InStream Environmental, a company that recycles and disposes of other companies’ waste streams. The company is retrieving the blades from two different wind farm locations.

Each turbine blade will need between 30 and 44.8 cubic yards of landfill space, using a total of 448,000 cubic yards of the 2.6 million yards set aside for construction and demolition material. The components are made of a fiberglass material that is one of the most inert, non-toxic materials accepted at CRL, Langston said. 

The average lifespan of a wind turbine is 20 to 25 years, and wind farms repurpose and recycle 90 percent of the materials in a wind turbine unit. The only materials not recycled are the fiberglass blades and motor housings. Nationwide, there are nearly 50,000 wind turbines, with 2,700 being decommissioned since the energy boom of the 1970s. 

Researchers at Washington State University are looking for ways to reuse the fiberglass components of aged-out turbines, but no practical commercial applications have yet been found. There is some hope that ground up blades can be used to create building materials, among other things.

To prevent acres of abandoned and decaying wind farms, Wyoming laws require companies provide bonds to cover the cost of decommissioning and disposal of turbines once they are taken out of service or abandoned.

Go to Top