This recent photo of the wind turbines on Lowell Mountain in northern Vermont in a lightning storm provokes the thoughts of the dangers of forest fires as these machines are erected throughout heavily forested areas in northern New England. We know the turbines have lightning rods, but so have the thousands of barns that have burned down after lightning struck their rods. If not properly maintained, lightning rods are simply ornaments, not protection. A lightning strike on a turbine not properly protected could cause the nacelle to explode. We are all too familiar with wind turbines on fire, including the one at Kibby in Maine.
Further, my thoughts go to the likelihood that rather than a storm passing over a ridge with few lightning strikes, putting all that metal high above a ridge probably causes more strikes from the electrical disturbance within the storm clouds. It is a logical extension to believe increased strikes cause more probability that nearby trees on the ridge will get struck by lightning, creating a forest fire. This could be catastrophic, as most wind turbines are located where there would be limited initial fire suppression response capability. Even in Lincoln, where there is a full time fire department, the fire chief testified that they could not respond to putting out a nacelle fire at Rollins Wind project. The best they could do is respond within about a half hour and try to keep fire in the woods suppressed. Good luck with that if there has been a drought, the woods are filled with slash that is tinder dry, and there is a good breeze. It results in a major forest fire.