Firm probing damage to wind turbine in Vermilion County

ARMSTRONG — The firm that operates the recently built California Ridge Wind Farm in Vermilion and Champaign counties said it is looking into how a wind turbine’s blade broke on Tuesday night.

Chicago-based Invenergy LLC released a statement Wednesday, saying that one of the wind farm’s 134 turbines “experienced a broken blade last night” but how the damage occurred was not immediately known.

“As designed, the turbine automatically ceased operation, and no one was injured in the incident,” the statement said.

“As a company that prides itself on the safe operations of our wind farms across the country, we will determine exactly what occurred in this particular situation.”

The turbine is located near Illinois 49 and Vermilion County Road 2700 North, a few miles southwest of Potomac and south of Armstrong.

The 214-megawatt wind farm was built this year, spanning a portion of Champaign County north of Royal and south of Penfield, as well as an area in western Vermilion County north of Oakwood and south of Gifford and Potomac. Of 134 wind turbines erected, 104 are in Vermilion County.

Invenergy has not officially declared the start of full commercial operations at the California Ridge Wind Farm, but a company official said that will happen soon.

This was the second turbine blade to break at wind farms in East Central Illinois this year. In June, the blade of a turbine at the Settlers Trail Wind Farm near Sheldon in Iroquois County broke. That wind farm is operated by E.On Climate & Renewables North America, based in Chicago.

E.On contacted GE, which manufactured the turbine, as part of its investigation into what occurred.

Matt Tulis, communications manager for E.On, did not immediately have information available about the investigation’s findings.

“We received a new blade and replaced the damaged one and brought that particular turbine back online,” Tulis wrote in an email Friday. “The investigation of the damage has been turned over to the guys from GE, and I don’t have any further information to pass along to you.”

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