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United States

BLADES BEND ON TURBINE IN TURBULENT REGION

A serious but isolated incident of blade failure on a 33M-VS occurred on a Kenetech wind farm in Palm Springs. Kenetech claimed the failure was caused by an operator error but did not want to discuss the problem in detail.

Following reports of a major technology problem in a new Kenetech Windpower wind farm in the Palm Springs area, the company says that a serious, but isolated, failure hit one of 115 Kenetech 33M-VS turbines in the area.

The failure, on a site formerly occupied by ESI wind turbines, was visible for some time over the July 4 holiday weekend in the United States. Two of the rotor's three upwind blades appeared to have bent at the inboard end, giving the 33M-VS the appearance of sporting floppy "rabbit ears."

"The machine [in the photo] was an isolated incident due to an operator error which caused the machine to run-away downwind," says Kenetech's Bud Grebey. Speaking on July 27 he said the damaged wind turbine had been replaced. He declined to discuss the problem in detail.

The failure has given rise to a deal of speculation in the California wind industry since the 33M-VS is regarded as a forerunner of American wind energy technology. "To have a catastrophic failure of a blade like that is indicative of a marginal design in terms of its serviceability," comments one long time industry member in the Palm Springs area, a region known for its extremely turbulent winds.

Kenetech completed its Palm Springs wind plant in July, says Grebey. The project had produced 21,000 MWh by July 25, of which 7248 MWh was delivered July 1-25.

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