Wind Turbines might be asked to stop in severe weather
By Scott Williams
5 July 2009
A Dodge County wind farm might be asked to shut down its rotating turbines during severe weather to avoid disrupting a nearby weather radar system.
National Weather Service officials said they have started discussing such options with owners of the Butler Ridge Wind Farm.
The wind farm’s giant turbines have sent false storm signals to the government radar system in nearby Sullivan, which provides severe weather alerts throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
Tim Crum, a spokesman at the National Radar Operations Center in Norman, Okla., said the wind farm does not present a significant problem for the radar operation about 30 miles away.
However, an agreement to shut down the turbines during inclement weather remains a possibility, Crum said.
“That would be a positive step, if it becomes necessary,” he said.
Butler Ridge, which began operation about six months ago, has 36 turbines that are each about 260 feet tall and 300 feet wide. The operation generates electricity for several surrounding communities.
The National Weather Service in April said the wind farm’s false storm signals could create confusion during real severe weather conditions.
The owner of the wind farm, Babcock & Brown Ltd., later approached weather service officials to discuss the situation and consider possible solutions.
Matt Dallas, a spokesman for Babcock & Brown, said discussions have started, and the two sides are exchanging information about Butler Ridge.
Dallas said it was too soon to speculate whether any changes at Butler Ridge would result.
“We’re just trying to figure out what the options are,” he said.
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: The turbine height of 260 feet given in this article is the hub height of the tower, but not the total height of the turbine. The total height of turbines in the Butler Ridge Project is 400 feet, or about as tall as a 40 story building.