Coastal NC storm damage raises EVEN MORE questions re: solar farms

 

 

Solar goons and their bought-and-paid-for politicians (like Bob Steinburg and Bobby Hanig) like to tell you there’s nothing to fear from all these state-subsidized solar farms being erected all over the countryside.  A little poking-around by Currituck County commissioner Paul Beaumont is telling us otherwise.   Here is Beaumont’s personal testimony to his county board  colleagues which was supplied to The Haymaker:

 

Wednesday morning, September 18th, I was asked to come out and meet with a concerned resident neighboring the Grandy, EcoPlex Solar Electric Plant. The resident called because workers at the facility were wearing masks over their faces and she was concerned about her family’s health. After arriving, an additional two neighbors joined us. Their concerns consisted of:

 

  1. How the facility had stood up to the winds during hurricane Dorian.
  2. How flooded the site and the surrounding lots became, that the drainage was worse than before construction.
  3. One neighbor had experienced electric arcing when using a sump pump. She was concerned that the damaged panels, which were lying in standing water, were electrifying the water.

Based upon the video showing the destruction of a section of panels during the storm, I called Michael Ali, (PE) in the State Construction Office. During the conversation I informed him of the damage suffered in Grandy. He told me that this was the first significant test of a solar plant during a hurricane in the coastal region and was alarmed at the damage I described, despite winds significantly less than “designed” wind load certification.

 

Thursday morning, September 19th, I requested that I be able to visit site to better understand how the damage was caused, and the extent the damage. I asked Ben if it would be possible to go out with Eric Weatherly and Bill News which occurred later that day.

 

Below are some of the photos I took, followed by my observations.

 

 

Photo 1 – One of several locations of frame failure. The panels laying on their side in the background came off during the storm blown around and found in the water on the site. It appeared as though at least 30 panels did the same thing.

 

 

Photo 2 – Close up of the frame at one of the failure locations. The top bolt was completely missing, and the bottom attachment location tore along the line of adjustment holes.

 

 

Photo 3 – Damage suffered by the panel section that was part of the video shared through social media. Please note the fractured glass caused by the bending, twisting, and torque during the storm.

 

 

Photo 4 – Flooding of the site following the storm. In discussions with neighbors in the back, their yard was uncharacteristically under water.

 

Observations

 

In examining the damage, it appeared as though every failure of frame and panel was caused by the loss of the fasteners holding the system together. Nuts, washers, and bolts were frequently found by the failed components. The panels are attached by only four bolts; where two fell of, the remaining two were torn from the frame as the panels departed.

 

As of Friday (20 September 2019), EcoPlex was waiting on the insurance company prior to securing the damaged sections or reinforcing the remaining sections; I’ve been told every time the wind blows, panel sections bang together.

 

Conclusions

 

Neither Eric Weatherly nor Bill News are qualified to contradict the obviously flawed certification by the EcoPlex Professional Engineer (nor permitted statutorily). Although the County has requested analysis and revised engineering, currently they may not be under a date of completion. EcoPlex is still permitted to install solar panels on the current frame system. For consideration of the Board of Commissioners:

 

  1. Should a “Stop Work” be issued considering the design failed during significantly less winds than the 120/150 mph the system was “certified” able to withstand? 
  2. Should we require independent engineering analysis of the proposed solution as a second opinion? 
  3. Should a date be set for the revised engineering input to the county? 
  4. Should the Board consider a “Field Trip”? 
  5. There is a strong possibility the identical design was used in Shawboro.

10 thoughts on “Coastal NC storm damage raises EVEN MORE questions re: solar farms

  1. Thank you Paul Beaumont for the sunlight. I have always thought that the solar fields looked vulnerable to big wind. No doubt now. There will always be weather but not always kind weather. Supposedly there will always be money.

  2. Ohh, there’s an obvious fix. Big winds??? They need some money to put up massive turbines to generate electricity! NCGA needs to open the wallet and let them put in the windfarms right on top of the panels. Problem solved, Raleigh style.

  3. If you ever needed proof of the folly of having “legislatively mandated and subsidized” policies for adding solar (or wind) power to the power grid, this is it. These certification standards would have been worked out by normal competition in a free, private industry marketplace without spending taxpayer / ratepayer dollars to rush something prematurely into large volume installations.

    One must wonder how much higher wind speeds are required to rip these panels loose, then carry them into a nearby populated residential or commercial zone? We’ve all seen videos of structural tests, where a 2x4x8ft board is blown thru the side of a typical residence at hurricane speeds. Where is the similar video of a solar panel striking a typical residence at 120mph? Yes, this is a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison. But that’s of little consequence to a resident living near a solar farm with poorly-specified mechanical mounts.

    Here in Person county we have a BOATLOAD of these solar farms, and yes, we do have hurricanes and tornados blowing thru here occasionally. My vote would be to “Stop Work” for ALL NC solar sites until these questions are addressed. Perhaps we should keep a “Stop Work” order in place until AFTER the 2020 election. Maybe the next legislature will also consider what to do about all the existing solar farms, renewable energy mandates, and subsidies. And, we can hope the next legislature would require the solar system owners to pay for any needed structural improvements from their OWN pockets.

    1. Nobody (as I am aware) has ever questioned the establishment of these solar farms here in Person County. But with all the suspicion of money changing hands, I can’t help but wonder if we were/are being played by lobbyists and govt officials.

      I’ve been wanting to work this issue into one of the “Solar Goons” threads. I have seen a few more of these solar farms here recently, and this sleepy lil county holds more tales than will ever be known – politically or otherwise.

      I am not making a statement on our current State Rep. – at this time. Just getting my 2 cents in – with a Person County mention in here.

  4. This report is very concerning and alarming considering that GenX-related compounds are used in solar panels… GenX is a chemical used to make polymers, such as the non-stick coating Teflon, which coats many solar panels. GenX is the emerging contaminant that has polluted the drinking water source in the Wilmington, NC area. This could become a liability issue for local governments that knowingly approve solar facilities that include toxic chemicals, but don’t require any proactive or remedial protection for the surrounding environment. The encompassing areas of all solar facilities should be subjected to annual ground water testing.

  5. The Wind and Solar Goons are laughing all of the way to the bank….. Courtesy of the Tax Paying Citizens. Unfortunately, my two General Assembly Members are their Greatest Cheerleaders.

  6. A resident called and was concerned that workers were wearing masks at the neighboring solar panel site ( obviously while they were picking up debris and making repairs) and should she have health concerns?

    Curious, did anyone get pictures of these workers wearing masks? Nothing tells a story like a picture!

  7. Where to even begin…. A solar facility destroys a tract of land that only pays 20% of the appraised value in property tax. In other words, the State of NC exempts solar and wind from 80% of the appraised value from property tax. So if a solar facility is appraised at $1,000,000 they only pay property tax on $200,000…. The state of NC doesn’t provide this type of property tax abatement for any other industry. This is just one of many, many incentives that solar and wind receive.

  8. Hopefully Mr. Beaumont scheduled a field trip for his state Rep. and state Sen. (little Hanig and kooky Steinburg). Steinburg will probably throw down a hissy fit if this subject is even broached with him. He is so sensitive!

Comments are closed.