No worry for Sherrard turbine

J. C. Taylor

A falling blade from a wind turbine near Wyanet in Bureau County a couple of weeks ago has resulted in some fears, but one area school says there is no need to worry.

The blade was 140 feet long and weighed six tons. Fortunately, it landed in a cornfield and there were no injuries or damage to property.

The Sherrard School District has just erected a wind turbine at its junior high and high school campus in lower Rock Island County, but there is no connection to the one that broke in Wyanet last Wednesday.

"I was on the phone on Friday to Ameresco, the company that's been putting in our wind turbine," said Sherrard Superintendent Rebecca Rodocker. "They wanted to quickly assure me that it is not the same kind of wind turbine and it did not come from the same place we purchased ours."

The Sherrard School District's wind turbine and blade were shipped from India, but not from Suzlon Energy. Suzlon was the manufacturer of the defective Wyanet blade. The company said its blades can develop cracks because of a design flaw. They are now checking more than 400 turbines that could have similar problems. A blade also fell in Minnesota earlier this year.

The American Wind Energy Association does not track turbine failures, but reports that mishaps are relatively rare.

Sherrard's turbine should go on-line before the new year. It will power the all-electric junior high and senior high campus.

"At this point our wind turbine is sitting," Rodocker said. "We've had it checked out and we've got just a few items to do before we can have it running full time."