Design Flaws

400 wind turbine motors being replaced in Michigan

Citing a design flaw, wind turbine technicians will have to replace 400 electric motors in Tuscola County, Michigan. The motors inhabit 134 turbines at two extensive wind farms managed by NextEra Energy Resources.

Discovery of the problem stemmed from loud “clunking” noises heard by nearby residents. 30 complaints were issued via township ordinances over the course of 2016, all in reference to the same two sites: Tuscola Bay Wind Energy Centers one (I) and two (II).

NextEra Resources rep Steve Gauger is the wind site manager for the affected area that includes Gilford and Fairgrove townships, situated in the eastern area of Michigan known as the Thumb. In briefing the Gilford Township Board of Trustees on the matter, Gauger reported that the repairs are in full swing, not only to address the loud clunking but also because of the likelihood of further motor failure.

Replacement motors are already being installed, but the process may take some time, according to Gauger. Each turbine contains three keyway pitch motors (one per blade) manufactured by GE, which is assisting with the replacement process.

Technicians determined that the pitch motors, an older design, are defective and not able to handle the load being placed on them by longer blades. Averaging one shipment of 3 or 4 replacements per week, the technicians have already replaced 177 of the 402 total motors in the project. The techs are from a third party contractor, but the replacements are covered by GE. The new motors are spline drive pitches, featuring a design better tailored for longer turbine blades.

Power generated at Tuscola Bay is sold to DTE, the Detroit-based utility, as part of a 20-year, $485 million contract announced in 2011, per local news source Tuscola Today. Tuscola Bay II also sells power to DTE, which also wants to build a Tuscola III Wind Energy Center in Fairgrove, Almer and Ellington townships that would call for 52 wind turbines with a price tag of about $200 million.

Also in the Thumb this week, another instance of maintenance on public works being essential to keep everyday life rolling. Liberty Bridge, which crosses the Saginaw River in Bay City, Mich., saw repairs to one of its locking mechanisms Wednesday, as seen in the video below. A 110-foot crane boom was used in the operation.



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