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OAKWOOD — For the third time in 17 months, a wind turbine blade manufactured by General Electric has broken off at an East Central Illinois wind farm.
The latest incident occurred about 9 p.m. Nov. 20 in Vermilion County at the California Ridge Wind Farm operated by Chicago-based Invenergy. Another turbine blade broke in that same wind farm in November 2012, following a June 2012 blade break at the Settlers Trail Wind Farm near Sheldon, operated by Chicago-based E.On Climate & Renewables.
All three blades were on 1.6-megawatt turbines manufactured by GE.
“We are working with GE, the turbine manufacturer, to determine the cause of this incident,” a statement from Invenergy said Friday.
Last March, GE issued a statement saying that an “isolated manufacturing issue” caused the two wind turbines to break in 2012. GE said it had “reviewed the wind farm fleets at both sites to ensure their continued reliability and performance” and “have addressed the manufacturing issue to prevent this from happening in the future.”
Lindsay Theile, GE Power & Water spokesman, said in an email Friday that “since the (Nov. 20) break is currently being investigated, we cannot speculate the cause of the break.
“With any customer event, our process is to assign a team to perform a thorough investigation,” Theile said. “It’s our goal to perform thorough root cause analyses, take appropriate corrective action and bring the turbines back online as soon as possible.”
Invenergy said the blade broke off and fell to the ground near the base of the turbine, which is located near the intersection of 2150 North Road and 900 East Road near Oakwood.
“We believe that as this blade fell, it hit a second blade on the same turbine, causing that second blade also to break off and fall to the ground near the base,” the statement said. “As designed, the turbine automatically ceased operation. No one was injured.”
Invenergy’s 217-megawatt, 134-turbine California Ridge Wind Farm has been in operation since 2012. There are 30 turbines in Champaign County and 104 in Vermilion County.
E.On’s 150-megawatt, 94-turbine Settlers Trail Wind Farm was built in 2011 and is the second operational wind farm in Illinois for E.On. The firm also owns the Pioneer Trail Wind Farm near Paxton.
E.On last year said a turbine breaking is a “rare event for us.”