The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

January 7, 2013

Wind farm closes after blade snaps off

PORTAGE — A large part of one of the wind turbine blades at Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm broke off over the weekend, forcing the owners to shut down the operation.

The blade came off for no apparent reason, said a spokesman for Infigen Energy, which has owned the wind farm for the past several years.

High winds are one possible cause being looked at for the blade failure, but a safety investigator scheduled to arrive as early as today will look into a number of potential reasons, David Smith, vice president of Infigen’s commercial division, said Monday.

“The winds were blowing pretty good over the weekend, but we’re not operating in winds the turbines) are not graded to operate in,” Smith said.

“We think it may be a combination of things.”

The blades measure more than 140 feet long, and about two-thirds of the malfunctioning blade appears to have fallen to the ground.

Smith said the blade “fell free,” with no injuries reported and no other property damage noted.

“We have not had a lot of failures at the Allegheny Ridge site,” Smith said. “We haven’t really had too many problems with the blades.”

Ice is not uncommon on blades along the ridgetop,  Smith said, but a computerized monitoring system in Dallas provides for the turbines to be shut down when ice is a factor.

The wind farm is located at one of the highest points in the region,

“We have confirmed there was no ice on it” that could have caused this failure, Smith said.

The decision to shut down the 40-turbine site was a precaution, Smith said.

“That is a standard procedure for us. We want to make sure (any problem) doesn’t manifest itself elsewhere in the farm,” he said.  

Smith said the company should be able to start bringing the turbines back on line soon.

The wind farm near the Cambria-Blair county line includes 40 turbines.

The site, which became operational in 2007, stretches into Washington and Cresson townships in Cambria County and Juniata Township in Blair County.  

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