Private investigators look into Kibby Mountain wind turbine fire

PORTLAND — An investigation into the cause of a fire that destroyed a wind turbine at New England's largest wind farm is expected to wrap up within a month. The Jan. 16 blaze was the first reported turbine fire in Maine.

File photo

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

The Jan. 16 blaze, the first reported turbine fire in Maine, burned out the gear box at the top of one of the 44 turbine towers at the Kibby Wind farm in northern Franklin County, said Grady Semmens, spokesman for the company that owns the farm. Nobody was injured and the fire burned itself out before it could spread, he said.

The turbine appears to be beyond repair, Semmens said, but the company, TransCanada, hasn't decided if it will be replaced.

The decision is "subject to the investigation in terms of the cause and what that'll mean for a potential insurance claim," he said.

Calgary, Alberta-based TransCanada doesn't disclose the cost of its turbines, but a large, commercial-scale turbine could cost several million dollars. The entire Kibby Wind farm was built at a cost of $350 million.

TransCanada, an independent fire investigator and turbine-manufacturer Vestas are conducting the investigation.

A full inspection of the turbine was delayed because of snow and poor road conditions leading to the remote tower. It's now expected to be completed within a month, Semmens said.

Wind turbine fires are uncommon, but they've been reported elsewhere and can be spectacular when they do occur. The Kibby Wind turbines have built-in fire detection systems that automatically shut down the turbines in the event of a fire, Semmens said.

The 132-megawatt wind farm was completed in 2010 and has the capacity to generate enough power for about 50,000 homes. The turbine towers are 260 feet high, and the blades reach as high as 411 feet at highest point.

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Comments

Alan Michka's picture

Kibby is a dismal failure

As one writer already noted, the replacement of the turbine would seem to be a no brainer if this was a truly viable operation. But......,

The Kibby wind project has been the statewide laggard in performance since it began operations. It's the highest elevation project in the state located in one of the most sensitive environments. What a waste.

This project, among others in the state, probably has the worst cost to benefit ratio; especially if social and environmental costs are included.

It's what happens when public enthusiasm exceeds public knowledge.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

What is sensitive? Worst Cost to benefit.

in one of the most sensitive environments?

probably has the worst cost to benefit ratio?

Probably is not measurable.....check the stats....

The farm was established when? How long do you think in any private equity investment, does the ROI have before an immediate benefit? Long term is normally the outlook on any investment to have any positive yield or at least a future record of performance.

In other areas of wind farms the returns on investments has been on a positive return and Trillions have been invested worldwide. If it wasn't a positive return, investors wouldn't continue to invest.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

What did consumers get from these subsidies...

$22 Million for Conservation Reserve Program, alone to grow nothing.....

Top programs in Maine, 1995-2011:

Years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007,2008,2009**, 2010**, 2011**,
1995-2011**
Rank Program
(click for top recipients, payment concentration and regional rankings) Number of Recipients
1995-2011 Subsidy Total
1995-2011
1 Env. Quality Incentive Program
1,924 $49,522,765
2 Disaster Payments
2,235 $36,528,047
3 Dairy Program Subsidies
947** $26,721,870
4 Corn Subsidies**
1,306** $25,211,785
5 Conservation Reserve Program
1,402 $22,984,529
6 Barley Subsidies**
707** $4,196,359
7 Oat Subsidies**
1,163** $3,360,686
8 Livestock Subsidies
1,283** $1,952,064
9 Apple Subsidies
79** $1,258,857
10 Potato Subsidies
143** $535,858

http://farm.ewg.org/region.php?fips=23000

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

LePages wants them shut down for 20 Years

The 132-megawatt wind farm was completed in 2010 and has the capacity to generate enough power for about 50,000 homes. The turbine towers are 260 feet high, and the blades reach as high as 411 feet at highest point.

Guess those 50K homes would need to have another alternative if LePage had his way.

The man is a moron.....

 's picture

Commercially viable?

If commercial wind power generation had any viability at all, wouldn't the replacement of the damaged turbine be a foregone conclusion. Apparently when you take away the government subsides; spending real money doesn;t make sense.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

I am sure

If the Company was a viable operation and responsible, they would have insurance to replace that $1 million unit.

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