Huron County’s wind farms are becoming notorious with having twice the number of incidents than any other county in Michigan.
Recent data obtained from Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, a global incident collection group in the UK showed that since 1990 Huron County lead Michigan in terms of wind farm accidents and incidents. The first incident recorded in the county was in 2010.
Blade failure was the number one incident statewide with Human Health coming in second due to lawsuits for health issues. Most of the legal health issues occurred in Mason County on Michigan’s west coast against Lake Winds Energy Park near Ludington. The state did not report any incidents of fire, the second most common wind farm incident globally.
State of Michigan – Wind Farm Incidents*
1990 – 2016 – By Type
State of Michigan – Wind Farm Incidents
1990 – 2016 – By County
Blade Failure – By far the biggest number of incidents found was due to blade failure. “Blade failure” can arise from a number of possible sources, and results in either whole blades or pieces of blade being thrown from the turbine.
Human Heath – Incidents include reports of ill-heath and effects due to turbine noise, shadow flicker, etc. Such reports are predicted to increase significantly as turbines are increasingly approved and built in unsuitable locations, close to people’s homes.
Miscellaneous – Component or mechanical failure has been reported here if there has been no consequential structural damage. Also included are lack of maintenance, electrical failure (not led to fire or electrocution) etc. Construction and construction support accidents are also included, also lightning strikes when a strike has not resulted in blade damage or fire.
Environmental – Includes oil spills and wildlife death due to turbine placement
Structural/Mechanical failure – “Structural failure” is assumed to be major component failure under conditions which components should be designed to withstand. This mainly concerns storm damage to turbines and tower collapse. However, poor quality control, lack of maintenance and component failure can also be responsible.
Transport – Most accidents involve turbine sections falling from transporters, though turbine sections have also been lost at sea. Transport is the single biggest cause of public fatalities.
Fire – Fire is the second most common accident cause in incidents found. Fire can arise from a number of sources – and some turbine types seem more prone to fire than others.
Ice Throw – These are listed here unless they have caused human injury, in which case they are included under “human injury”
Human Injury – Involved wind industry or construction/maintenance workers, and involved members of the public or workers not directly dependent on the wind industry (e.g. fire fighters, transport workers)
Fatality – Wind industry and direct support workers (divers, construction, maintenance, engineers, etc), or small turbine owner/operators. Public fatalities, including workers not directly dependent on the wind industry (e.g. transport workers)