OCOTILLO – A 500-foot-tall wind turbine at the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility collapsed this morning, spewing debris and three blades across the desert floor.
Photographer Jim Pelley, an Ocotillo resident, says 30 minutes after the collapse, the other 111 turbines were still spinning and no one from Pattern Energy had arrived. Around an hour or more after the collapse, Pattern arrived and shut down the entire project.
Pelley believed the ground was not saturated from rainfall and the foundation was intact. Winds were only 15 miles an hour or less during the three hours before the collapse.
Edie Harmon was outside her home five miles south of the wind farm around 10:30 a.m. when she heard the turbine collapse. It sounded like “a massive explosion. I thought a military jet had crashed to the ground,“ she said.
Witnesses said the collapsed caused a loud boom and raised a cloud of dust. One witness told Pelley that blades were turning as the turbine collapsed and may have struck the tower.
While this turbine is in a remote location, others are located close to major roadways including Interstate 8, as well as homes, a school, and public trails on federal Bureau of Land Management property.
The website Ocotillo Wind Destruction has also posted this and other images, drawing posts from residents angry over the threat to public safety and lack of responsiveness thus far by Pattern.
Parke Ewing, who has a turbine near his home, wrote, “Are they going to wait for someone to be killed before these unreliable monsters are decommissioned?” a reference to the fact that the project has failed to meet wind production capacity projections every year since it was built.