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State devising standards for elevators in MUC's wind turbines

WILLMAR -- Willmar Municipal Utilities' two new wind turbines are fully operational, but the two-person elevator inside each turbine tower is not.

State elevator inspectors recently shut down the elevators because the state does not have standards for the European-designed elevator inside each turbine and Willmar must wait until the state comes up with standards.

"Since it's a relatively new design for this area, the state elevator inspectors have had a little bit of a challenge coming up with permit requirements for the units,'' says Bruce Gomm, Willmar Utilities general manager. "They came up with some requirements that we didn't meet, so the elevators are technically out service.''

Gomm said inspectors co-nsider it a safety issue, but it's more an inconvenience as maintenance staff who need to service the nacelle power generating unit on top of the tower must climb the interior ladder rather than ride the elevator.

"Two hundred and fifty feet is a long ways to climb,'' said Gomm.

The towers were designed and equipped with the elevators by DeWind Inc., which was founded in Germany in 1995.

"It's one of the wrinkles in bringing a European design over to the U.S.,'' said Gomm. "These elevators are approved and in use all over Europe. But coming to the U.S. and complying with each state's requirements, there's just a little difference in requirements.''

There is only one other turbine in Minnesota and a couple in Texas that have the same kind of elevator

Wes Hompe, staff electrical engineer, said the elevators will be inspected again in a couple of weeks. He said most turbines do not have elevators. They discussed the elevator issue Tuesday during the Municipal Utilities Commission's regular meeting.

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