The Case of the Tipsy Turbine
Descendants of 19th-century snake oil peddlers are today selling huge profits to be made by investing in wind energy and then sitting back and cashing checks. Sometimes it all goes awry . . .
A wind turbine was claimed to be tipping toward high voltage regional transmission lines and the owner was given an ultimatum: remove the turbine within 24 hours or have electric service cut off.
TI was asked to determine the cause and extent of tipping.
TI took precision measurements of the taper and inclination of the tower and determined the tower was indeed listing 4.23° at a compass heading of 6° east of north, resulting in the turbine itself being 7.4’ off-axis, and indeed tipping toward the transmission lines. TI’s background investigation learned that this was the second wind turbine on the site, the first having fallen over to the north taking down the regional transmission lines and placing a significant geographical area in the dark. Thus the utility’s lack of a sense of humor. The turbine was hurriedly dismantled.
TI’s investigation also noted that the now-listing tower was not installed on a new concrete foundation but rather on the foundation of the earlier fallen tower. Anchor bolts for the 2nd tower were not cast-in-concrete J-bolts but instead were straight lengths of threaded rod bonded in drilled holes with sand filled epoxy resin. It was clear that the bolts were neither in deep enough holes nor effectively bonded to the concrete foundation and were thus merely pulling out. TI’s report provided details for subrogation against the engineers and contractors for the second tower.