PUC Commissioners Surprised By Short Life Of Wind Turbine Blades

(WNAX) — An unexpected issue with wind power development is coming up with a plan to dispose of old wind blades. As technology improves, wind developers are replacing blades with new, more efficient designs.  South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Chairman Gary Hanson says they anticipated a much longer life for the projects and blades…

“It wasn’t a consideration that they were going to be getting rid of blades after about five years. The consideration was decommissioning them after 20-25 years, what’s going to happen and that’s why the PUC requires a bond or a financial requirement so that there’s going to be money available in case for some reason the company’s not able to financially take care of them or just refuses to take care of them.”

Hanson says the bonds set up when a project is licensed should cover those disposal costs…

“That then there will be…be funds available so that the state could step in and…and take over and…and decommission them, but yes that…that was very much a consideration as part of our orders. It’s a standard part of our orders that they have a fund available and it’s independent of them so they can’t just all of a sudden runoff with the money.”

There are only a few landfills in the region that will accept the blades, which can be up to two hundred feet in length.