Energy & Environment

Coastal Wind Farms “Dodged a Bullet” During Harvey

Wind farms near Corpus Christi made it through the storm intact, despite 100 MPH gusts.

A view of the Papalote Creek wind farm near Corpus Christi, Texas, one of those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Wind farms on the Gulf Coast were only briefly impacted by Harvey.

The industry trade group American Wind Energy Association said most wind turbines were back online within three days of the storm making landfall. Since Harvey’s track didn’t put any turbines on its “dirty” side, some say the industry “dodged a bullet.”

“This is the first time, I think, that wind turbines have really been tested during a major hurricane on the Texas Gulf Coast,” said Kevin Alewine with Shermco, a wind energy repair and maintenance company. Alewine said the news was good: no turbines blew over, for instance. Still, there was a bit of luck.

“They weren’t off the grid long enough that they lost control, so they could maintain the pitch of the blade, so they could keep it facing the right direction in the wind,” he said, “and because of that, there was minimal damage.”

Patrick Woodson’s company E.ON runs two wind plants near Corpus Christi. He said while the plants did go down for a few days, the wind turbines performed as expected, even through 100 MPH gusts.

“Our equipment survived intact, and was able to produce, but there was basically no grid to connect to because the storm was so intense,” Woodson said. 

Woodson said his company’s biggest lessons were that it’s important to design turbines to withstand hurricanes, and to have a plan for when the storms inevitably hit.

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Travis Bubenik

Travis Bubenik

Energy & Environment Reporter

Travis Bubenik reports on the tangled intersections of energy and the environment in Houston and across Texas. A Houston native and proud Longhorn, he returned to the Bayou City after serving as the Morning Edition Host & Reporter for Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas. Bubenik was previously the...

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