ORANGEVILLE, NY - Hunters were alarmed early Sunday morning by the sound of what they described as a series of three "sonic booms" while combing the woods of this rural Wyoming County community looking for deer.
But the loud noises they heard - loud enough to shake one neighbor's house - turned out to be the sound of a 150-foot-long wind turbine blade breaking off from a 400-foot-tall wind mill and crashing to the ground.
No one was hurt as a result of the mishap, according to a statement released by Invenergy, the company that operates the power generation facility. It happened at about 7 a.m. at the Orangeville Wind Farm, near the intersection of Syler Road and Route 20A (Big Tree Road).
Construction of the wind farm, which consists of 58 turbines between Route 20a and Centerline Road, was just completed recently and the turbines were still being commissioned when the accident occurred. Commissioning involves a process of testing the turbines as they are connected to the power grid.
"Out of caution, all turbine commissioning and turbine operations at the wind farm have been suspended," said Alissa Krinsky, a spokesperson for Invenergy. "We are working with GE (General Electric), the turbine manufacturer, to determine the root cause of this incident."
Witnesses said there were no unusual winds or weather phenomena at the time the blade broke off.
The company also owns and operates the nearby Sheldon Wind Farm, which began full commercial operations in 2009, among other holdings in the U.S., Canada and Europe.