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An oil leak knocked the No. 4 wind turbine out of commission this weekend. Of the city's two wind turbines, No. 4 is located closest to the Senior High. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

Wind turbine sidelined over weekend due to an oil leak

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WILLMAR -- An oil leak sidelined one of Willmar Municipal Utilities two wind turbines over the weekend.

The problem surfaced late Wednesday when turbine No. 4, which is closest to Willmar Senior High School, shut down.

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Utility technicians were dispatched and saw an oil leak, but were unable to enter the hub and check operations because they do not have access codes for working in the hub, said Wes Hompe, staff electrical engineer.

Technicians in Minnesota who work for DeWind, the turbine manufacturer, were unavailable because they were assisting with the commissioning of a wind operation in Texas.

Hompe said a DeWind technician was dispatched and was to have been in Willmar on Monday to help utility technicians with the problem, Hompe explained to the Municipal Utilities Commission on Monday.

Officials for DeWind and the utility have said DeWind will make payments during the warranty period to cover lost revenue when the turbines are not turning.

Hompe presented preliminary turbine production figures since the turbines went on-line on Aug. 1, 2009.

He said turbine No. 3 has produced 3 million kilowatt-hours and No. 4 has produced 2.5 million kilowatt-hours. He said production equals 1,500 tons and 1,200 tons, respectively, of coal substituted or 4,300 tons and 3,600 tons, respectively, of carbon dioxide not generated.

"That's how wind is comparing with coal,'' said Hompe. "This being our first year, these numbers are less than we had anticipated. There was more production in the summer than earlier in the year and the trend is going up.''

General Manager Bruce Gomm said the utility is working on a wind turbine annual report. A couple of requests have been made by the public for turbine production information, according to Gomm.

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David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150
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