High winds too much for wind turbines

The high winds this week were too much even for some machines that normally thrive on gusty conditions -- wind turbines.

Great River Energy officials say 61 turbines at the Prairie Star Wind Farm near Austin stopped operating for a time because of the powerful gusts.

Great River's Mark Rathbun says the machines are programmed to stop producing electricity when winds get into the 55 mph range.

"Once the turbines sense winds at that speed or above, they'll actually shut down and turn on brakes, and turn themselves out of the wind and the wind gusts to try to protect their mechanics," he said.

Rathbun says several turbines at a second wind farm that supplies Great River also shut down.

Rathbun says it's the first time he can remember that an autumn storm shut down wind turbines. He says other stoppages were caused by strong winds associated with summertime thunderstorms.

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