New Pics of Old USW 56-100 Wind Turbines

By Paul Gipe

Photographer Bob Tregilus sent along a couple of pictures of some recycled US Windpower turbines in Nevada.

US Windpower built three models: 56-50, 56-100, and KVS 33. The company changed its name later in life to Kenetech to better market its wares internationally.

At one time US Windpower was not only the largest manufacturer of wind turbines but also the larger producer of wind-generated electricity. They operated some 4,000 machines in California’s Altamont Pass.

The machines have now been removed or are being removed in a massive repowering project. Thus, thousands of the 56-100—the mainstay of the company—are on the used wind turbine market.

Tregilus came across this group near Silver Springs, Nevada. What is noteworthy about one of the photographs is the extreme detail of the nacelle that Tregilus captured. Not being permitted to see the turbines up close myself, I don’t have any photographs showing such clarity.

Not only can you see the variable-pitch, downwind rotor, but you can also see the drive train and the provisions for servicing the machine.

Note the fall-protection cable on the tower, the work platform, the handhold and fall-protection lanyard anchorage, and what looks like a yaw-locking pin. Of course you can also see the gearbox and the pitch actuator mechanism that runs through the gear box.

There are no nacelle covers on the machines. The fiberglass covers were relatively flimsy and it was common to see USW 56-100s in the San Gorgonio Pass without their covers after they’d blown away.