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Air Repair

By Staff | Oct 27, 2008

Where there is wind, there is power. But, it’s not the kind Corn Plus officials were hoping for.

When it came time to start repairing a wind turbine at the ethanol plant on Oct. 15, the project had to be put on hold.

Ironically — it was high, gusty winds that grounded some 20 workers of Barnhart Crane and Rigging of Memphis, Tenn.

“The blade has been cracked all summer. It’s been frustrating,” says Dan Moore, director of project development for Renewable Energy Solutions.

When the broken blade was discovered, the turbine furthest from the ethanol plant had to be shut down.

All three blades needed to be replaced, says Moore, because we couldn’t find one to match the other two.

He says the new ones are more aerodynamic and replacing just one would have thrown the other two out of balance.

“They’re more lighter and designed to catch more wind,” he says.

Moore says Barnhart brought in spotlights for workers in case repairs could be done only at night.

On Friday, rainy conditions again halted repairs. The workers were able to finish fixing the turbine the next day.

“It’s not costing Corn Plus anything. It’s all under warranty,” Moore says. “The turbines come with a two-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.”

Renewable Energy along with John Deere Wind Energy worked with Corn Plus officials to develop the project, which is expected to produce 45 percent of the plant’s electrical needs.

Because the new blades are more efficient, Moore says, plans were to change the three on the “working turbine.”

Again, windy conditions on Monday sidelined crew workers. Later in the week rainy weather hampered workers’ efforts to replace the blades.

“It’s been a real struggle, running up against the weather,” says Moore. “Corn Plus and I are eager to get this done.”

By Friday, just one of two 2.1 megawatt turbines was up and running.

It’s not the first time there’s been a problem with the wind generators.

Shortly after the 400-foot turbines were erected in July 2007, technical problems with software and wiring prevented them from being turned on.

The new blades are comparable in size to the older ones –each 150 feet long and weighing 17,500 pounds. They also were made at a plant in Pipestone operated by Suzlon, manufacturer of generators for the turbines.