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Ask Mr. Answer Person about the Luther Wind Turbine

Posted: Mon, Dec 5, 2011 8:12 AM

Mr. Answer Person once before has recommended that readers visit Luther College's web page about the wind turbine--  This web page answers "frequent asked questions" about the Luther wind turbine.  Still, several readers have been asking Mr. A.P. about the turbine.  He's anxious to justify his paycheck, so here goes:

Ray asks: "Why was the wind turbine shut down?  It was running earlier in the day.  Is it not 100 percent duty cycle?  Or are they having problems with it already? 
Luther wind turbine expert Jim Martin-Schramm replies: "It is not uncommon for turbines to start and stop during the first few months as various start-up issues emerge and are addressed.  The turbine shut itself down when a cooling fan in the generator stopped working.  The replacement will be installed per the terms of our warranty agreement with GE."

Along those lines, Jeff asks, "Has the warning light on top of the tower been fixed?" 
Jim Martin-Schramm answers, "Yes, the light is now working.  It was a wiring problem and not an equipment failure.  

Jesse asks: "Decorah citizens create committees which fight things like the Wal-Mart Super Center, the East Side School demolition, the Green Bridge demolition, the asphalt plant in Bruenning's Quarry and the demolition of the Caretaker house.  Why didn't anyone fight the wind turbine?  Was the wind turbine approved by the Winneshiek County Board?"
Mr. Answer Person says: "Not only was the wind turbine approved by the Winneshiek County Board, it was approved by the Winneshiek County Planning and Zoning Commission after a public hearing. has covered the site plan process since 2010, so it has been publicized.

Claire asks, "What about safety issues--when a power outage occurs, can Luther maintain their power load?" 
Jim Martin-Schramm answers, "Luther continues to be served by Alliant Energy.  The power is flowing into the line that serves Luther.  Our interconnection design contains several safety features to ensure the turbine poses no danger to Alliant's employees and customers."

Finally, Claire also asks, "What about the Decorah bald eagles?  In California, raptor deaths are a concern and we don't want the Decorah eagles to be in danger." 
Mr. Answer Person says, "I can just imagine the public relations nightmare for Luther College if one of the Decorah bald eagles gets killed by the wind turbine!  There have been two bald eagle fatalities from wind turbines-one in Wyoming and another in Canada.  But a study of bald eagle travel patterns in Alaska concluded that after wind turbines were built, the bald eagles avoided the wind turbines.  Smart eagles!  Let's hope that Decorah's bald eagles, just like Decorah's children, are all above average in intelligence and will avoid the wind turbine.

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