OCCOTILLO WIND TURBINE COLLAPSES – AGAIN | East County Magazine
By Henri Migala and Miriam Raftery
Photos courtesy of Destruction of the Ocotillo wind turbine on Facebook
September 20, 2021 (Ocotillo) – Ocotillo residents are expressing concern after another wind turbine collapse at the Ocotillo Wind Energy facility. There were no injuries or damage to other structures when the 300-foot-high turbine crashed into the desert floor at the problem-prone facility on Thursday, September 16. But residents are raising serious questions about public safety at the site, which generates power at SDG&E to power the San Diego area.
Another turbine collapsed in 2016 on the project, which was built on public land owned by the Bureau of Land Management, as reported by the ECM, triggering an investigation by State Senator Ben Hueso . The manufacturer, Siemens, blamed the failure on a malfunction that resulted in the collision of a blade against the tower, but has a long history of turbine failures.
Ocotillo Wind, built by Pattern Energy, also had a fire in a wind turbine in January 2015 and an 11-ton blade was thrown onto a public trail in May 2013, among other mechanical failures, as reported by ECM. The project has around 112 turbines in total. An ECM investigation after the fall of the blade resulted in a reduction worldwide and found the story riddled with allegations that also included bribes, corruption and other scandals .
In 2014, ECM revealed that an international wind expert concluded that the developers of the project had defrauded the federal government to pocket grants, tampering with data to imply that the site had higher wind speeds than in Ocotillo. built, it had failed to produce the promised amount of electricity each year.
Then-Congressman Bob Filner warned the Treasury Department of the fraud allegations and suggested the project should be halted. The California Native American Heritage Commission also discovered the project was at sacred sites and urged state attorney general Kamala Harris to sue the federal government to stop the project, but cited a conflict of interest and no records were made. The tribes pleaded with President Obama to stop the project, but he continued.
Residents of Ocotillo were exposed to hazards resulting from the wind project beyond the projected blades and collapsing turbines. Topsoil stripping has resulted in huge dust storms, and the chemicals used to control dust have caused potentially toxic white sludge to circulate through the streets during storms – a substance that becomes flammable when dry, such as l ‘reported ECM.
For the besieged residents, that’s enough.
According to Linda Wells, who has lived in Ocotillo for over 30 years, âThe summer has been the hottest ever and the turbines are just breaking down. It’s just the kind of thing they said would never happen.
Wells continued, âPattern Energy is in charge of the area. They installed it and they made all the promises. And they are the ones who lied to us. They leave old turbine blades lying around. They can’t ask anyone to carry them, about 5-6 of them. And the others crack up and spill oil all over the desert. They drip oil, and not just a little. I’m talking about gallons and gallons. The oil penetrates the blades, which then spray the oil all over the desert. They are doing exactly what they said would never happen.
Linda’s husband, Park Ewing, created a Facebook page called Ocotillo Wind Turbine Destruction, which provides photos and stories about the Ocotillo Wind project.
The project was among the first to be accelerated by the federal government in an effort to accelerate the production of green and clean energy to help fight climate change.
The estimated lifespan of a wind turbine is around 20 years and it is not known why Ocotillo has had so many serious equipment failures with Siemens 2.37 megawatt turbines.
Pattern Energy spokesperson Beth O’Brien responded to questions sent by Parke Ewing about the latest turbine collapse, which occurred in the northwest section of the site in a designated setback area around the turbine base, she said.
âNo one was injured,â the Pattern spokesperson confirmed, adding: âWe are working closely with turbine manufacturer Siemens Gamesa to identify the root cause of the outage and a full investigation is underway. . The competent authorities have been notified. We take this issue very seriously and will share more information as it becomes available. “
Gilbert Rebollar, the county’s information officer, told the Imperial Valley Press that the county was aware of the incident and had “established communication with Pattern energy.”
But some residents are fed up with the problems at the wind farm. Resident Linda Muir posted on Facebook: “Are they all going to collapse before they clean up the property ????”