Wind turbine topples in Mill Run, startles residents – Tribune

January 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

When big wind turbines fall, they make a lot of noise. But not everyone hears the crash.

Wayne Steyer, 75, of Clay Run Road in Mill Run, Springfield Township, was in his basement watching TV about 9 p.m. Wednesday when the power flickered. His wife, Ruth, 73, who was on the main floor of their home, heard a rumble and saw the same flickering of the electricity.

“I thought it was thunder,� she said.

The couple’s daughter-in-law, Trudy, 45, who lives next door with her husband Ronald, said she heard the rumble and felt her house shake.

“I thought it was thunder snow,� she said. “We get that a lot of that up here in the winter.�

Trudy Steyer and her daughter, Laura, said they ran out onto the porch and looked up the hill toward the ridge line.

“What’s that lump?â€� Trudy Steyer said she asked. “And where is that windmill (the wind turbine that used to stand at that location)?â€�

The wind turbine, the last of four that stood along the ridge in a line on what used to be Wayne Steyer’s property, fell to the ground. It now lies in a twisted mass near where it stood since 2001. NextEra Energy Resources owns the line of wind turbines along a 300-foot wide right of way purchased from Wayne Steyer. The site is called the Mill Run Energy Center.

“I’m surprised it fell,â€� said Wayne Steyer, adding it was a quiet night with very little wind. “We’ve had a lot of strong wind this year, but not last night.â€�

There were no injuries reported.

Steve Stengel, a spokesman for NextEra, said it is too early for the company to determine the cause of the failure.

“We’ve dispatched several teams to help the local team determine what happened,â€� Stengel said. “Wind turbines are very safe, very reliable.â€�

According to Stengel, the company generates more than 10,000 megawatts of electricity through its 10,000 wind turbines around the nation.

A search on the Internet found another collapse in a wind farm in Oregon. But that collapse happened during a period of high wind.

Stengel said the turbines are located on private property away from buildings.

“The risk to the public (from a collapse) is zero,� he added.

Early reports indicated the turbine fell on a public road. However, Normalville Fire Chief Mark Bigam confirmed it only fell on an access road that is protected by a locked gate.

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kpolacek@tribweb.com or 724-626-3538.

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