A-W deals with ‘runaway’ wind turbine

Posted February 4, 2014 at 11:38 pm

By Julie Ann Madden

Early Feb. 4, the Akron-Westfield School District’s wind turbine’s blade began rotating.

On its own.

“We have no control over the blades’ turning,” said A-W Shared Superintendent Randy Collins. “It is life-threatening to be near the wind turbine at this point.”

“The whole thing could disintegrate — the gear box (and other parts), he said. However, he has been assured by a wind turbine engineer no property or people are in jeopardy.

Property owners of the wind turbine site and nearby neighbors have been alerted of the situation as well as city officials, including the Akron Fire and Rescue Department have been notified of the situation.

The best guess of why its operational at this point is that its braking system has failed, said Collins, explaining it is too windy for anyone to be near the wind turbine. “We’re waiting for the wind to die down to get up into the wind turbine and see what is really going on.”

School officials were hoping Old Man Winter would cooperate on Thursday, Feb. 6, and engineers will check out the wind turbine’s gear box, braking system and other mechanics.

“We are on call, on watch for the next 36 hours,” said Collins, noting with its continuous operation without any braking mechanism could cause enough heat from the friction to start the oil in the engine on fire. “We’re monitoring it for signs of fire and smoke.”

“The whole thing could disintegrate,” said Collins, explaining parts could fall to the ground. “We are telling people to stay away from it.”

In the wind industry, the term is “runaway” wind turbine, he said.

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