Research points to serious under-reporting of wind turbine fires

Energy Editor, 5th August 2014

Fire is the second main cause of accidents in wind turbines, after blade failure, according to research at Edinburgh University, Imperial College and Sweden’s SP Technical Research Institute.

Moreover, the findings suggest that incidents of wind turbines catching fire are a problem that is not currently being fully reported.

The inter-institution team carried out a global assessment of the world’s turbine population – around 200,000 machines.

Comparing the only data available, the team estimate that ten times more fires are happening than are being reported.

Instead of an average of 11.7 fires each year, which is what is reported publicly, the researchers estimate that more than 117 separate fires are breaking out in turbines worldwide annually.

More at:

COVER-UP??? - $4-million turbine fire at Kibby Mountain puts wind energy under new scrutiny by state (BDN)

The truth is finally getting out about all things wind. Maine was sold a bill of goods and is jeopardizing its core essence for virtually no benefit. Nary a wind industry claim is not grossly overstated. As wind industry consultant Justin Rolfe-Redding stated at a renewable energy webinar two years ago, “The things people are educated about are a real deficit for us.”

Is not reporting a major multi-million dollar industrial fire any different than sending a person out in the morning to pick up dead birds beneath the massive rotors' kill-zone? What else is there that a top to bottom investigation would reveal?

$4-million turbine fire at Kibby Mountain puts wind energy under new scrutiny by state, opponents

A fire on Jan. 16, 2013, destroyed this turbine at TransCanada's Kibby Mountain wind farm in northern Franklin County.

Maine Forest Service
A fire on Jan. 16, 2013, destroyed this turbine at TransCanada's Kibby Mountain wind farm in northern Franklin County.
Posted April 23, 2013, at 11:38 a.m.
Last modified April 23, 2013, at 4:30 p.m.

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Comment by Mike DiCenso on August 6, 2014 at 3:05pm

Anybody heard if any fires out West were caused by industrial turbines? It is only a matter of time.

Comment by Whetstone_Willy on April 26, 2013 at 10:05am

Let's add the following to Sierra-Audubon-NRCM's CO2 calculations:

1. The CO2 given off by potential wind caused forest fires, stated in a range from a small fire to a huge fire

2. The lost CO2 sequestration due to such land going from healthy forest actively engaged in CO2 sequestration to a charred moonscape

Comment by Donald Moore on April 26, 2013 at 9:39am
This is a perfect example of "leaping before looking." Environment Maine; NRCM; Maine Audubon; Sierra Club all became committed to Wind as clean energy early in the debate and found themselves "in over their heads" and on the wrong side of history! Now they are compounding insult to injury! How sad they are now demonstrating cowardice. They have decided to accept big donors over the people. Which one of them will blink first and admit a mistake and come back to the people who made them strong long ago?
Comment by freemont tibbetts on April 26, 2013 at 7:10am

Our government is not working right if they cannot and do not put a stop this Big Wind Scam that is Destroying The Mountains in this Great of Maine. It''s all for the Greed for Money so the rich get richer and it needs to stop now before it is too late. One Way or Other. That is The True Facts !!!.     


Comment by Long Islander on April 23, 2013 at 10:34pm

The Vestas operating manual states that their own workers must not stay within a 1,300 foot radius of a wind turbine.

That is how far they can easily throw debris, including burning debris. The math says that a 1,300' radius equals 122 acres, yet I keep reading that only 1.5 acres of forest is cleared for each wind turbine. Maine needs to establish a fire safety radius where each turbine sits in a cleared area of 122 acres, or probably more because the Vestas 1,300' radius was based on 389' wind turbines, not today's 500' turbines.

Let's require this fire safety radius and then let's see the wind power applications not be approved on the basis of the environmental destruction their fire radius will bring about.

The wind industry would cry and moan and shout unfair. Too bad.

Comment by Karen Bessey Pease on April 23, 2013 at 8:46pm

There were several quotes in the article which caused raised brows.

“The Kibby turbines have built-in fire detection systems,” Semmens wrote in an email to the BDN. “In the event of a fire, a smoke alarm detects this and automatically shuts off the turbine. That is what happened in this case. Our power system operators identified a problem at the facility and when TransCanada’s employees arrived at the site the following morning, the fire was out.”

There was no mention of whether or not the fire caused the whole string of turbines to shut down on that side...but as they are interconnected, that would be a reasonable assumption.

And where is the show of concern that, once the turbine shut down, crews waited until morning to see what the problem was? If the fire HAd spread debris to areas which were not protected by snow... what would the crew have found, the next morning? Surely a 'shut down' of a turbine (or more likely, a whole string of them) should be investigated immediately?

“Applications for wind projects in Maine are already highly scrutinized,” said Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association. “Every wind development in Maine has to develop a preparedness plan, which includes public safety setbacks. … In addition, the clearing done to build the turbines and the pads that they are built upon limit the ability of fire to spread.”

The question here isn't exactly 'public' safety setbacks. We know these turbines are remote from human habitation. BUT they ARE in the middle of our forest. Anyone who's ever been intimately involved in the devastation caused by a forest fire knows that they can spread rapidly, causing destruction to our woods and wildlife and ecosystems, as well as homes and cabins many miles away. To shrug this off seems unconscionable.

"Paul Williamson, director of the Maine Ocean & Wind Industry Initiative, points out that wind turbines are not the only pieces of machinery operating in Maine’s woods.

“Where is the concern for fires in logging operations? Where is the concern for fires in machinery operated at ski areas? These are all common uses that require machinery in a forested area,” Williamson said. “This is really not dramatically different than those other uses.”

Why is it that Mr. Williamson takes on a tone of 'poor me' when what he should be saying is "Yes, this was a frightening event and it is up to the industry to make sure we don't endanger Maine in this way again"? Instead, he whines about skidders and chair lifts? Rarely are either in operation without humans being on the scene. This comparison would be laughable... if this issue wasn't so serious. The best defense is a strong offense, and Mr. Williamson has that tactic down pat.

"On April 2, just two weeks after Longeteig’s comments to the BDN, another Vestas turbine, though of a different model from those installed at Kibby Mountain, caught fire at a wind farm in Ontario. In October 2012, another Vestas turbine — again, a different make than the ones at Kibby — caught fire at a wind farm in Nebraska. While the cause of the Ontario fire is still unknown, an investigation discovered the source of the Nebraska fire, but Longeteig wouldn’t disclose its findings."

Of course he wouldn't disclose! How often does the industry claim 'proprietary information'? By rights, if tax-payers subsidize these projects, tax-payers should be allowed transparency in the industry's dealings, reports and information.

"TransCanada doesn’t expect local fire departments to fight blazes at the wind farm, Semmens said.

“We do not expect local fire departments to risk the safety of their firefighters by going up a tall turbine tower in the event of a fire that does not pose a risk to people,” he wrote. “Most fire equipment is not designed to manage fires at such a height, and common industry practice is to allow wind turbine fires to burn out on their own.”

Excuse me? Are local fire departments expected to 'sit out' any turbine fire within their jurisdiction? It's common knowledge that fire departments in Maine aren't equipped to deal with turbine fires, which happen hundreds of feet off the ground. That's a big part of the problem. But certainly, they should be on hand to extinguish any spot fires caused by flaming debris. Should they be called? Consulted? Allowed to make their own assessment of the situation? Absolutely.

"Warren at the DEP said it’s possible the expedited pace of past wind farm approvals could have led to the issue of turbine fires receiving less attention than it deserved."

FINALLY. An admission that Maine's 'wind rush' poses dangers... or at the very least, created an atmosphere of 'build, build, build' without the usual cautions put in place to protect Maine's landscape, forests or citizens.

It's time we took a step back, took into consideration the 25 recommendations put forth in the 2012 Maine Wind Energy Assesment Report, and approached this issue with caution, common sense and integrity.

Comment by Penny Gray on April 23, 2013 at 8:09pm

Thank you, Clyde.  This is exactly what you've been warning us about all along.  Hopefully the right people are paying attention.

Comment by clyde macdonald on April 23, 2013 at 7:51pm

flaming firebombs from exploding, burning turbines land hundreds of yards away, down steep, forested mountainsides. They are not to be compared with what happens when a skidder catches fire. Mr. Paul Williamson' s comments are absurd.  Clyde MacDonald, Hampden

Comment by Allen Barrette on April 23, 2013 at 6:44pm

Now all the politicians,Business investors,and big wind start paying back the taxpayers,fire departments and any other damaged you caused with these idiotic machines. Got it! Then get the hell out of Maine.


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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We have the facts on our side. We have the truth on our side. All we need now is YOU.

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

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