Broken turbine shuts down Echo Wind Park
Ron Chriss, DTE regional manager, told the Huron County Board of Commissioners Tuesday that the blade failure occurred at approximately 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 7 and was likely the result of the blade being improperly cured during its manufacturing process.
The turbine is located a half mile north of Dunn Road, west of Farver Road, he said.
Joining Chriss at the meeting were Michael Sage, supervisor of Echo Wind Park, and Michael Serafin, DTE program manager.
Sage said two of the blade’s broken pieces landed on the concrete area under the turbine, and the third piece was thrown about 80 feet and landed on the turbine’s access road.
Chriss said the 55 turbines that have been put into operation have been turned off and will remain off until DTE determines the cause of the blade failure and is satisfied that it will not happen again.
Representatives from General Electric, which manufactured the turbine, were on site Saturday and Sunday to investigate the blade failure. Chriss said DTE expects to have preliminary results of the investigation within the next few days and will conduct a “deep root cause analysis” over the next couple weeks. He said he will report findings at an upcoming Board of Commissioners meeting.
The commissioners told Chriss that shutting down the wind park “seems expensive.”
“It is,” Chriss said. “But we have to until we feel more comfortable and get some kind of preliminary analysis. ... We want to be sure we feel completely comfortable. This cannot happen.”
No one was injured as a result of the turbine’s failure, but Chriss noted that if anyone was on the access road when the blade broke they could have been in danger.
The pieces of the 50-meter blade broke apart about halfway up the blade’s length, Chriss said.
Serafin said each turbine blade weighs approximately six tons, with the majority of the weight concentrated near the hub.
“It breaking at the halfway point does not necessarily mean three tons came down,” he said.
The blades were manufactured by General Electric in Brazil, Serafin said.
Last week’s incident marks the third turbine failure in the Thumb this year and was the second that was owned by DTE. In March, a blade that was also manufactured by GE broke in Sigel Township at DTE’s Thumb Wind Park. That incident was also due to a manufacturing defect, Serafin said. Another turbine, located in Minden City at the Exelon Energy’s Michigan Wind Project 2, broke when it was struck by lightning in September.