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By Miriam Raftery

November 25, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – When a multi-ton blade fell off a wind turbine at Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility, the company claimed such accidents are rare.  Now another Pattern Energy wind project has hurled off dangerous debris.  This time, a turbine in Canada hurled off an 18-inch chunk of serrated blade, which flew 400 feet before landing in a field, the Chatham Voice reported.

Why is the company now using serrated blades resembling whirling knives?  The serrated blade is the wind industry’s latest attempt to mitigate noise.  Iberdrola has installed some at its out-of-compliance wind project in Massachusetts, where the company’s project is exceeding noise decibel levels allowed by the local government, WindWise Massachusetts reports.  This follows a beta test at Fox Islands wind project in Maine.  The serrated section is used only on the outer third of each blade.

The manufacturer of those serrated-edged turbine blades, General Electric, has claimed they can reduce noise by 2 to 4 decibels. Whether this is in fact accomplished remains to be seen and there is no suggestion if this would address infrasound or low-frequency noise  issues.

Regardless of whether or not serrated blades reduce noise problems,  if sharp-edged pieces of the blade can become flying shrapnel, then wind projects will likely continue to generate not only electricity, but continued community opposition.


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Two or four decibles

Engineers can't decide or agree on what a decibel is or what it measures. So the blades are more effective bird choppers too? That's just great.