by Andrew Walden
A confidential June, 2009 report by representatives of wind developer First Wind and wind turbine manufacturer Clipper Liberty raised questions about Clipper Liberty wind turbines sited in dozens of wind farms across the United States. Twelve Clipper Liberty turbines were installed in 2010 and early 2011 at the Kahuku Wind Farm at the northern tip of Oahu.
Described in an email, posted online by New York State officials, the confidential presentation to New York State regulators provided, “an overview of the root cause analysis undertaken by Clipper regarding the blade skin crack, an update of the resolution relating to gearbox timing, structural blade remediation, as well as other data regarding Clipper's Liberty turbine.”
The email underlined Clipper Liberty’s insistence that the still-secret document, “is…relating to equipment design and testing of major components of the Clipper Liberty turbine, including the turbine blades, the drivetrain, and other information which is protected by Clipper, the manufacturer.” Attorney Ruth Leistensnider warned that release of the information, “could cause injury to Clipper's competitive position.”
Clipper Liberty was founded by a former Director of Enron Wind. Clipper Liberty Vice President of Engineering is also an Enron Wind veteran.
Five months after the New York presentation, Clipper Liberty stockholders leapt at the chance to unload their shares for £1.80 ($2.81) per share offered by United Technologies.
Eleven months after the New York presentation, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approved a power purchase agreement between HECO and First Wind’s Kahuku Wind Power.
There is no record of any Hawaii public discussion of the Clipper Liberty blade skin crack and gearbox timing problems prior to or subsequent to the approval and construction of the Kahuku Wind Farm.
Full Text Nixon Peabody Letter (pdf)
Dear Records Access Officer 06/03/2009 11:53AM
On June 2, 2009, representatives of First Wind Energy, LLC (Michael Alvarez, President and Chief Operating Officer) and Clipper Windpower, Inc. ("Clipper")(Robert Gates, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations), met with Staff of the Department of Public Service. During that meeting, we provided to Department Staff a presentation labelled (sic) "Confidential", providing an overview of the root cause analysis undertaken by Clipper regarding the blade skin crack, an update of the resolution relating to gearbox timing, structural blade remediation, as well as other data regarding Clipper's Liberty turbine. A copy of this document was left with members of Department Staff present at the meeting, including Steve Blow, Edward Schrom, Richard Quimby, Andrew Davis and James Austin. An electronic version of the document is attached.
Please accept this e-mail as a confirmatory request that this document be protected from disclosure as a confidential document. The information contained in this document is highly confidential, commercially sensitive information relating to equipment design and testing of major components of the Clipper Liberty turbine, including the turbine blades, the drivetrain, and other information which is protected by Clipper, the manufacturer. This information is not publicly available, and would, if disclosed, cause Clipper substantial competitive injury. As a result, we would ask that this information be treated as a trade secret or information which, if disclosed, could cause injury to Clipper's competitive position pursuant to Public Officer's Law Sections 87.2(d) and 89(5) and 16 NYCRR Section 6-1.
Ruth E. Leistensnider, Esq.
Partner Nixon Peabody LLP
677 Broadway, 10th Floor
Albany, New York 12207
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