The Oklahoman (Sunday)

Windfarm owner plans site repairs

Work at KODE Novus I and II to begin later this year

- Jack Money

The owner of a dilapidate­d and dangerous wind farm in northwest Oklahoma plans to remove broken blades from seven towers and to fell two others that are topped with burnt-out nacelles that used to house generators.

Those steps will be taken by a contractor hired by Olympia Renewable Platform LLC later this year as the owner works to address public safety threats identified earlier this year posed by the KODE Novus I and II wind facility, southeast of Guymon in Oklahoma’s Panhandle.

The Texas company submitted the plans and proof it could pay for the needed work after regulators launched an enforcemen­t action for allowing the developmen­t to lapse into disrepair.

The company filed a plan to secure the site and a plan to remove associated safety concerns earlier this month.

Company officials notified regulators they expected needed repairs could be started sometime next month and take between 20 and 30 days to complete, depending upon relatively calm conditions that would be needed for the work.

But as for the facility’s long-term future, that remains unclear.

Removing safety risks aim of plan

The remediatio­n plan submitted by Olympia addresses nine towers.

Seven of those are missing portions of, or entire blades, while two are topped by burnt-up nacelles where blades are no longer attached.

The company hired by Olympia to do the work, EcoAllianc­e Contractor­s, will use “rope access” technician­s to cut and remove the damaged blades from nacelle hubs and will dispose of those components using establishe­d EPA standards, according to the submitted plans.

Olympia then will secure hub assemblies and lock them down before the blade removal work is done.

EcoAllianc­e told Olympia available contractor­s for the blade removal work would not be available until

See WINDFARM, Page 12D

Regulators were notified about the facilities’ condition earlier this year and were alarmed to hear cracking sounds when they inspected the operation as large, broken turbine blades on towers blew first one direction and then another, including over open access roads that area motorists use daily.

Aug. 19, at the earliest, according to the submitted plans.

As for the two towers that will be taken down, EcoAllianc­e said trying to use cranes to remove the nacelles safely wouldn’t be possible.

“Felling is deemed ONLY option,” Olympia’s filed plan states.

EcoAllianc­e will remove debris from the felled towers’ sites, as well as associated buildings, electrical cables/components and foundation­s to a depth of 48 inches below grade.

The company will backfill the soil to restore it to grade and reseed disturbed areas to return them to their pre-constructi­on condition, according to the submitted plans.

EcoAllianc­e estimates the work it will do for Olympia will cost $348,750.

Longterm future of KODE Novus facility not clear

The 120-megawatt capacity KODE Novus I and II project, located along the Oklahoma-Texas state line between Guymon and Hardesty, went operationa­l in 2012 and contains 60 towers within Oklahoma.

Dozens of turbine towers that are part of the larger project were locked down in June. They aren’t addressed by Olympia’s plan.

There also were rumors earlier this year that another wind operator was looking at acquiring the facility from Olympia; the company’s remediatio­n plan doesn’t confirm nor deny those plans.

KODE Novus I and II was developed and owned originally by DeWind (a subsidiary of South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuildi­ng and Marine Engineerin­g), a California-based company that later fell into bankruptcy and closed.

Because DeWind built the blades and generators used in the project itself, any critical needed replacemen­t parts that can’t be salvaged must be manufactur­ed from scratch.

While waiting for contractor­s to mobilize, Olympia has put temporary fences around some damaged towers and posted signs that warn of “potential shedding,” where debris and parts could separate from the structure and fall to the ground.

Officials said they coordinate­d those efforts with local land owners to accommodat­e their cattle grazing and harvesting needs, and efforts to repair or take out damaged towers will be coordinate­d similarly.

“We have commenced and completed substantia­l portions of our ‘Facility Security Plan,” Olympia’s filing with the commission reads. “But unpreceden­ted amounts of rain limited our access to some of the wind turbines, additional­ly complicate­d by overlappin­g harvest season, so we improvised some solutions.”

Regulators were notified about the facilities’ condition earlier this year and were alarmed to hear cracking sounds when they inspected the operation as large, broken turbine blades on towers blew first one direction and then another, including over open access roads that area motorists use daily.

Brandy Wreath, director of the Oklahoma Corporatio­n Commission’s Public Utility Division, testified before elected commission­ers about what he had seen during a hearing seeking the emergency steps the order required Olympia to fulfill.

“I am not someone whose nerves get on edge very easily, but I didn’t want either myself or my people close to it. What I saw gave me fear,” said Wreath. “I left with many more concerns and questions than I had arrived with.”

 ?? PHOTOS BY CHRIS LANDSBERGE­R/THE OKLAHOMAN ?? A wind tower with a broken blade stands at the KODE Novus I and II facility southeast of Guymon in Oklahoma’s Panhandle.
PHOTOS BY CHRIS LANDSBERGE­R/THE OKLAHOMAN A wind tower with a broken blade stands at the KODE Novus I and II facility southeast of Guymon in Oklahoma’s Panhandle.
 ??  ?? Broken blades hang from a wind turbine tower that is part of the KODE Novus I and II facility southeast of Guymon in Oklahoma’s Panhandle.
Broken blades hang from a wind turbine tower that is part of the KODE Novus I and II facility southeast of Guymon in Oklahoma’s Panhandle.
 ?? CHRIS LANDSBERGE­R/THE OKLAHOMAN ?? A damaged wind turbine stands among others at the KODE Novus I and II facility southeast of Guymon in Oklahoma’s Panhandle.
CHRIS LANDSBERGE­R/THE OKLAHOMAN A damaged wind turbine stands among others at the KODE Novus I and II facility southeast of Guymon in Oklahoma’s Panhandle.

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