Fallen turbine causes outage
Several hundred Clarion residents without power Friday
By OBAID KHAWAJA, Messenger staff writer
CLARION Several hundred MidAmerican Energy Co. customers in Clarion
were without power for an hour Friday after winds knocked down a wind
turbine, which fell on a power line. A portion of the town was affected,
and classes were canceled at the Clarion-Goldfield High School because
of the outage.
The wind turbine is believed to have fallen shortly before 7 a.m. and
resulted in 794 people being affected. However, by 7:57 a.m., all but
three households had their power restored and no injuries were reported.
Even at 7 in the morning, we have a number of kids in school,
said Robert Olson, superintendent for the Clarion-Goldfield Community
School district. There were some students that were weight-lifting
(and) they were close enough to where they probably heard something.
School meals are prepared at the high school and, since there was no
power, elementary and middle schools in the area also had to be closed
for the day.
The wind turbine is owned and operated by the school and was built in
June 2002 as part of an educational school project. Olson also said the
turbine, which cost about $141,000 and generates about 150,000 kilowatts,
is designed to help the school save money on utility costs.
The electricity generated does not go directly to the school but to the
local power grid and the school then gets credits on their utility bill.
I havent heard any instances like this before,
said Allan Urlis, spokesman for MidAmerican Energy Co. We
are, of course, happy that no one got hurt.
Prior to the incident, the turbine allegedly lost a piece from a blade,
which left it improperly balanced. Brakes that are designed to stop the
turbine in such a scenario then failed and left the blades spinning.
Even though the wind isnt as severe today, it was enough,
Olson said. There was no way of stopping (the blades) until
the wind stopped.
The structure is fully covered by insurance, and investigators are expected
to visit Monday to look at the turbine.
School officials did not specify if they would be restoring the wind
Were going to see what (the insurance company) comes
up with, Olson said. Were just going to
have to figure out where we are financially and go from there.
Contact Obaid Khawaja at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org