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Lightning recently zapped several turbines in the Palm Springs area. On July 1, a Wincon 110 in Difwind Farms IV took a direct hit and caught fire, says Difwind's Robert Clingensmith. The fire department had to extinguish the blaze, which hit one of the blades and caused $20,000 damage, he says. The blade contains a steel alloy spar, but the turbine has surge protection to guard the communications system and controllers. A Kenetech Windpower 33M-VS wind turbine also took a direct hit on July 1. "It was a catastrophic failure," says Kenetech spokesman Bud Grebey. "My understanding is the machine exploded." Shortly beforehand, a 400 kW Danish Wind Technology turbine at Whitewater Energy was struck. "It's hard to say what the hell happened," says Whitewater's Bill Adams. "It burned the nacelle out. The lightning set off something so combustible that the heat made aluminium run."

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