Author: Ellwood Shreve
Rick Nicholls wants assurances that other turbine towers in south Raleigh won’t topple over like one did last week.
The Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP knows the company is looking into the cause of the collapse, but said Monday, “I want to call on the ownership of those turbines to do a thorough inspection of all the remaining turbines in that wind farm.”
Nicholls said he wants to know the results of the investigation, including the company that built the turbine towers, as “there could be a flaw in the engineering, which could cause another one to come down.”
The MPP is also renewing his call for a moratorium to halt constructing industrial wind turbine projects across Ontario until the turbine collapse and other issues, including the impacts on area water wells, are dealt with.
The investigation into what caused the turbine collapse is going to take weeks, according to the owner of the wind farm.
In an email on Monday, Chad Reed, director of investor relations for TerraForm Power, said a team of experts is onsite investigating the cause of the collapse.
“In the meantime, we have secured the immediate area around the turbine and taken the full facility offline as a precaution as we conduct a site inspection,” Reed said. “We are making progress on the inspection and expect to complete it within the coming weeks. As a precaution, the facility will remain offline until the inspection is complete.”
The turbine is part of the 52-turbine Raleigh Wind Energy Centre project that went in service in 2011 under the previous owner Invenergy Wind LLC, before being purchased by TerraForm in late 2015.
Nicholls is also concerned about the several wind turbines, owned by many different companies, located near Highway 401 in Chatham-Kent.
He said some turbines are located just over 100 metres from the highway.
“If they were to fall down towards the 401 that could be a terrible tragedy.”
The MPP said he’s not fear-mongering but being “a realist.”
The turbine collapse has also alarmed members of the Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns (WAWC) citizen group, which already has concerns about the impact that 12 Enercon E-141 model turbines will have on water wells and noise levels when erected as part of the Otter Creek wind project north of Wallaceburg. The turbines will stand 185.7 metres (462 feet) high from base to the top of the turbine blade, 30 per cent higher than other turbines in Chatham-Kent.
Upon of last week’s turbine tower collapse, WAWC spokesperson Violet Towell said: “My first thought was, ‘There’s yet another concern for us.’”
She said citizen group is still waiting for definitive answers on noise assessment data and the impact the vibration from the construction and operation of the Otter Creek wind farm will have on area water wells, since this model of turbine is a prototype and is not yet in operation with any wind farm.
Towell fears the impact if an Enercon model turbine fell, since the wind farm is just outside Wallaceburg.
“What I do hope is we get a really thorough and objective understanding of what happened” in the former Raleigh Township, she said.
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, in an email on Monday, said it is “taking this incident very seriously.
“We are actively monitoring the situation and will ensure that the company determines the cause of the incident.”
The ministry also stated it has asked for a report from the company about the cause when their assessment is complete.
Noting the remaining 51 turbines have been shut down until the cause of the collapse is known, the ministry added: “We understand that the company is making arrangements to remove the damaged turbine within the next week.”