How many lightning strikes does it take to shut down BigWind?

Apparently, MORE than 17…AND land damage…AND a gearbox failure…AND a broken blade ‘anomaly’. Really? What is the real cost to maintain these machines? Ohioans should be thankful that our legislators INCreased our safe setbacks to prevent harm. Is this really a wise investment  of our HUNDREDS of millions of taxpayer $? I have never heard of such problems with a coal, gas, or nuclear plant, have you!?!…

“We have almost 17 blades that have been struck by lightning since we started,” said Dennis Buda, operations manager at DTE….

The damages from lightning strikes have forced wind park owners to replace blades, which rotate on towers that reach more than 300 feet in height. For DTE, a turbine in Sigel Township required a single blade exchange last month, Buda said.

Damages to land area in Sigel Township have been restored, but the strikes also brought crop damages, Buda said. DTE plans to pay landowners for those damages….

Other issues also have plagued GE-supplied turbines and blades at DTE wind parks.

Last year, a blade in Sigel Township failed because of a manufacturer’s defect due to uneven heating conditions at a production plant in Brazil, Buda said at a March 2013 county meeting. GE manufactured the blades.

A broken carbon fiber blade was found at DTE’s Echo Wind Park in November last year. GE said the cause was a manufacturing anomaly.

Buda said a gearbox failure on a turbine in Sigel Township was discovered during annual inspection in April….

Lightning strikes again: DTE wind turbines damaged by ‘Mother Nature’ | Wind Energy News.


1/1200 Wind Turbine Gearboxes fail and cost $200,000-$500,000

As a follow up to its “Breaking Blades” report, the wind insurer, GCube, has now issued a second report called “Grinding Gearboxes”.   In this report, GCube finds that “As the central component of the drive system, the gearbox has always been a critical interface and constitutes 13% of the overall value of the typical onshore wind turbine. Nonetheless, the current financial climate has led several major gearbox manufacturers to reconsider the manufacturing process from first principles, from forging to final inspection.  This rethink has contributed to market pressures that have seen some companies face insolvency, which, in turn, has presented a major issue for operators seeking repairs and component replacements following the end of the warranty period.  With approximately 175,000 geared turbines in operation in 86 countries worldwide, there are around 1,200 incidents of gearbox failure reported each year – one failure per 145 turbines per year – commonly ranging between $200,000 and $300,000 in insurance claims, in some unique cases exceeding $500,000.”

We continue to believe that wind turbine models proposed by industrial wind developers in Ohio in applications filed years ago are unlikely to be the models used in yet-to-be-built wind facilities.  The report from GCube appears to support that belief.

Specialist renewable-energy underwriter GCube Underwriting Limited has published an in-depth report, entitled Grinding Gearboxes, analyzing gearbox failure by addressing root cause, financial impact and proactive steps to mitigate the frequency and severity of downtime.

As the central component of the drive system, the gearbox has always been a critical interface and constitutes 13% of the overall value of the typical onshore wind turbine. Nonetheless, the current financial climate has led several major gearbox manufacturers to reconsider the manufacturing process from first principles, from forging to final inspection….

With approximately 175,000 geared turbines in operation in 86 countries worldwide, there are around 1,200 incidents of gearbox failure reported each year – one failure per 145 turbines per year – commonly ranging between $200,000 and $300,000 in insurance claims, in some unique cases exceeding $500,000.

It is therefore crucial that asset managers take proactive, preventative steps to ensure that this financial and operational risk is managed appropriately.

Following on from Breaking Blades, the Grinding Gearboxes report forms part of a series entitled Global Trends in Wind Turbine Downtime Events. It seeks not only to quantify the inherent risk and financial impact of gearbox failure, but also to promote knowledge sharing among GCube insureds and supporting insurance brokers with a view to minimizing that impact….

GCube gets to grips with grinding gearboxes.

2 Year Old Siemens Turbines Falling Apart: Wind Farm Investors, Get Out While You Can

‘Clean and Green’ wind turbines show their dark side in California. Learn about these occurrences and share them with friends and legislators…


burnt out tubine at ocotillo

These days, the spontaneous combustion of wind turbines is an occurrence so common that STT is thinking about opening a sub-branch that deals exclusively with their terrifying pyrotechnic-melt-downs.

Giant fan conflagrations are 10 times more common than the wind industry and its parasites will ever admit (see our post here).

And these unscheduled fireworks shows have the potential of literally setting the world on fire. Overheating bearings and brakes turn a couple of hundred litres of hydraulic oil, plastics etc into an exploding, toxic fireball.

As such, these things make the perfect incendiaries: putting the lives of rural residents at risk – not only because bushfires are a mortal threat, but because the presence of paddocks full of these 160m whirling monsters rules out the use of aerial water bombing to douse the flames, and bring raging infernos under control (see our post here).

The latest flaming-fan-tale comes…

View original post 1,200 more words

How does Ohio’s 1300ft setback look now?

Ohio’s Governor Kasich signed House Bill 483 into law in 2014 and established a new industrial wind turbine setback of approximately 1300 ft from a property line.  As we have stated previously, this is still a very weak setback for the safety, health and property rights of neighbors.  If BigWind is in your area, (and it probably does lurk in the shadows), ask your neighbors what they think about 1300 ft, after reading the article below? Please make a particular point to ask those who have already leased ground, what they would think if this happened  on their property, with family and friends nearby…

It is not clear what caused the giant structure to collapse, but people in the industry said it was a highly unusual event especially as winds were light at the time.

The turbine, valued at over £500,000, collapsed on Friday evening, scattering debris over a wide area.

People in the area said the rotor blades were spinning out of control on the evening the turbine buckled.

The sound of the failing mechanical structure was heard more than seven miles away….

Debris from the stricken turbine is scattered across the mountainside and a large spike remains impaled in the earth several hundred yards from the turbine site.

The turbine is one of eight on Screggagh farm which was commissioned in April 2011….

BBC News – Fintona, County Tyrone: 80-metre wind turbine collapses.

Big Wind Insurer Accused Of Ducking GEARBOX Repair Costs

Insurer Accused Of Ducking Shell Wind Farms Repair Costs - Law360

Gearboxes, the achilles heel of BigWind. We have blogged, before, that gearbox failures are a problem in this industry, hence the warranties are short – 3-5 years.  Maintenance problems can rapidly begin to creep up on a wind site, after that, and plague them until death at 10-15 years.  We have even seen a situation where a school was hurt, financially, because they were unaware of this reality.  Maybe if more of these situations come  ‘to light’, the true costs of BigWind will become more apparent to the public and our legislators. The maintenance costs are usually hidden by this industry. Remember, the wind may be free, but converting it to electricity is EXTREMELY expensive!….

Wind energy company UpWind Solutions Inc. on Monday accused Companion Property & Casualty Insurance Co. in Oklahoma federal court of acting in bad faith by denying coverage for damaged gearboxes in turbines at a wind farm co-owned by Shell Oil Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The complaint alleges Companion used a pre-existing damage exclusion in the policy it provided UpWind to deny coverage for gearboxes without adequately investigating the nature of the damage to turbines at the Whitewater Hill Project….

UpWind obtained $3.45 million in extended warranty contractual liability coverage from Companion for a period from 2011 to 2016, according to the complaint. The policy covered any “expenses” UpWind was contractually obligated to pay resulting from damage to the covered wind turbine equipment.

Companion’s denied coverage for claims submitted in 2013 and 2014 for repairs to two gearboxes, invoking the policy’s pre-existing damage exclusion clause, but UpWind claims the insurer failed to perform an adequate investigation to reach that determination.

“To mask its deficient claims handling, Companion complained that UpWind did not provide information regarding the gearbox claims, even though Companion stated that it had sufficient information to determine that the ‘pre-existing damage exclusion’ applied to bar coverage,” the complaint said….

“Companion undertook no meaningful investigation of the gearbox claims, and instead denied coverage to UpWind based on conflicting excuses and knowing misinterpretations of the language of the policy,” the complaint said.

The complaint asks for compensatory damages, citing the fact UpWind had to pay for the repairs to the gearboxes, in addition to punitive damages for Companion’s alleged breach of faith by intentionally misreading the exclusion clause….

“It is unfortunate that UpWind must file suit in order to vindicate its contractual rights and secure the coverage it purchased, but our client looks forward to its day in court,” Bourne said.

A representative for Companion did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday….

Insurer Accused Of Ducking Shell Wind Farms Repair Costs – Law360.

pic via:

BigWind leaks OIL? No! They are supposed to be GREEN!

Impossible!  All we hear from the media is that BigWind is GREEN and turbines will reduce our dependence on foreign oil! We have told you before that each gearbox could contain 200 gallons of oil, liquid gold.  Oil that gets dirty and needs to be changed, just like in your car. Additionally, there are thousands of parts inside that need to be lubricated. BigWind doesn’t reduce our dependence on foreign oil, it INcreases our dependence on it….

A Summary of Violations has been issued to Ocotillo Wind Express OWE (California) for alleged violations of state law due to hydraulic oil leaks observed during a complaint investigation…

Residents have documented oil leaks at over 40% of all turbines on the project. Now, they are voicing concerns voice concerns that oil leaks could contaminate the town’s only supply of drinking water.

“We worry that in time it’s only going to get worse as these turbines age,” said engineer and Ocotillo resident Jim Pelley.  He fears that in the future, turbine leaks could pollute the federally protected aquifer, or underground water source.  “No water – no town.  If the water gets polluted, all homes in Ocotillo could be red-tagged,” said Pelley….

Ewing added, “I believe all of the turbines leak oil,” though not all are doing so presently since some have been repaired or recently had new gear boxes installed. “The oil is very clear and normally becomes easily visible when the blowing sand and dust sticks to the oil.”…

Residents also allege that workers for Siemens, the turbine manufacturer, attempted to cover up the leaks….

Pelley said he and other residents have complained to “just about everybody we could think of” including the county, federal BLM officials, an environmental justice task force, and the state environmental agency. “Typically, we don’t get any replies back from our e-mails.”

Though the complaints have been well-documented with photos and videos now for many months, still the turbines remain in operation, spewing oil into the environment and white sludge with seemingly every major rainfall—all atop the town’s only source of drinking water….


What risks do BigWind’s insurance providers carry?

As wind turbines are beginning to age, the picture is not as rosy as promised when they were new.  Reports coming in from around the world, but more importantly from the insurance industry, show premature failures. In the case of Traverse City Michigan, the local utility has decided that after 18 years, their “turbine remains a deficit investment of $688,453. This lack of economic feasibility, coupled with the absolute inability to replace or repair the defective yaw motors, failed hoist and failed RCC unit, led to staff’s recommendation to decommission the turbine.”  ( think back to the fall of 2007 when the Champaign County Farm Bureau took a group to the Twin Groves farm in Illinois.   Reports of smiling leaseholders having their pictures taken standing under the giant structures were widespread. How are things going today at Twin Groves?  Photos from reveal ( a leaky mess of oil which appears to be coming from the gear box that holds about 85 gallons of synthetic oil. 

More important, the insurance industry is now taking the wind industry to task as claims for equipment failure are exceeding premiums collected.  GCube is the industry’s leading insurer.   In last month’s publication, GCube warns that “To an increasing extent, we’ve seen that a number of plants do not follow proper maintenance practices.”  And “In the last two years we have seen an unprecedented rise in the magnitude of insured loss events.”    We encourage you to read the entire article below.

 The wind industry continuously trumpets advances in technology.  What we see is that the advances leave older models in peril.  We have no reason not  to believe that today’s latest model won’t likewise be tomorrow’s leaking, broken liability. Speak up to your legislators NOW. No one wants to live amongst a turbine cemetary!…

Although the PTC is a welcome force for industry growth, GCube shares the concern that, until the wind industry is able to build in a more consistent manner, the probability of unnecessary claims events is higher than it needs to be.What’s more, this inconsistent growth pattern and subsequent strain on resources hinders proper planning and maintenance work at existing wind farms. As construction on large numbers of new projects gets underway, operators may find it difficult to procure the required equipment and labor to repair a turbine at an existing site.With a growing focus on getting new projects up and running, amplified demand for parts may lead operators to move their inventories between wind farms, meaning that, in the event of unexpected damage, the necessary spares are not immediately available.  When a repair takes an extended period of time to complete, or expedited component services are requested, the number of days the insurer will be paying for business interruption increases. This artificially inflates insurance costs that might not have existed otherwise in a more consistent development environment.And the unstable market has also contributed to a broader, more concerning shift in the way maintenance is conducted in the industry.Many companies have come and gone amidst these volatile conditions. During extended quiet periods, some component manufacturers have gone out of business, leaving operators with the challenge of finding obsolete stock. When the market picks up again, finding experienced labor and manufacturing plant capacity has become an increasing concern.In this climate, and to reduce downtime as far as possible, ensuring a thorough understanding of equipment and a supply of readily available components should be a primary concern. Insurance underwriters will always favor a preventative and proactive approach to maintenance as well as an effective loss control program.To an increasing extent, we’ve seen that a number of plants do not follow proper maintenance practices. They have adopted long-term operations and maintenance contracts that come into effect once manufacturer warranties end. But these programs often fail to look beyond the turbines and gearboxes and ensure the proper maintenance and contingency planning crucial for the balance of the plant. Should a substation transformer fail, the entire project will come to a standstill.It is no secret that, for many years, operators within the industry have favored a reactive maintenance approach. With renewable insurance claims on the rise, this approach is of significant concern to underwriters and capital providers.Wind turbines are exposed to a range of adverse weather conditions and complex site conditions that create significant mechanical stress. Although a turbine may have a 20-year life expectancy, the reality is that we continue to see premature component failures.Numerous studies have proven the benefit of extending the life of turbines through proper maintenance. In order for equipment to meet expectations, the industry needs to adopt a proactive, preventative approach and deal with potential problems before they arise. By acting in advance, overall downtime can be reduced, along with maintenance costs, labor overtime and the necessary inventory of spare parts. Simultaneously, operators will see a boost to the life of the turbines and the cost effectiveness of the project as a whole.Insurance is designed for catastrophic failure, and yet claims based on mechanical consequential breakdown are steadily increasing. As the number of industry suppliers falls and the available manufacturing capacity shrinks, lead times for repairs grow. In this environment insurance providers may look to reward those operators with proactive preventative maintenance programs in place with lower deductibles, while raising rates for those with exclusively reactive plans.From an underwriting perspective, the instability of the market has necessitated a reevaluation of acceptable risk in the industry.

via Planning for the Future: Proactive & Preventive Maintenance | GCube Insurance Services.