Wind turbine blade snaps at Berkshire East

  • The broken turbine blade at the top of Berkshire East as seen from Hawley. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The wind turbine at left at the top of Berkshire East. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The broken turbine blade at the top as seen from Charlemont. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The broken turbine blade at the top of Berkshire East as seen from Charlemont. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The wind turbine with a broken blade at the top of Berkshire East. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 2/18/2022 4:42:33 PM
Modified: 2/18/2022 4:42:23 PM

CHARLEMONT — One of the three blades of Berkshire East Mountain Resort’s wind turbine snapped in half on Thursday morning, likely resulting in a lengthy repair, though the incident will not disrupt the outdoor adventure center’s operations.

Jon Schaefer, whose family owns Berkshire East as well as Catamount Ski Resort in Hillsdale, New York, said his staff called him at home around 8 a.m. to inform him of the incident, presumably caused by a heavy gust of wind. There were no injuries.

“Things like that don’t break without, you know, it really throwing off your morning. Sometimes you have to run into Dumpster fires and, you know, that was mine yesterday,” he said Friday. “(Staff members) heard a bang, looked around, looked up, and saw it.”

The top half of the broken blade was still dangling Friday afternoon.

Schaefer, who said he has insurance, went to the site and recorded a video, which marketing manager Nathan Marr posted to Berkshire East’s Facebook page to share with the world. The 900-kilowatt-hour wind turbine can be seen in the background over Schaefer’s right shoulder.

“This is a real tough one for me. I’ve seen and experienced a lot — I haven’t experienced this. We did have a cracked blade a few years ago, but the damage was all internal and was never really in this current state, so … you know?” he said in the video. “We’re proud of our renewable energy legacy, the work we’ve done here. We’ll carry on. You know, (renewable energy) is important, it’s the right thing to do, but it comes with challenges, and equipment does break down. It’s subject to the weather and, you know, it’s subject to a lot of different issues and this is one of them.”

Schaefer, 42, said in an interview that the turbine supplements the resort’s energy consumption but does not serve as its power supply. He said the turbine was installed in 2010 and commissioned in January 2011. Berkshire East was closed Friday, not due to the turbine but because of high winds. Schaefer said one ski trail was closed Thursday in order for workers to get road access to the turbine site.

He said he has been in contact with PowerWind Ltd., the turbine’s Indian manufacturer, and various subcontractors about repairing the turbine.

“In normal times, I could see it done in six months. But these aren’t normal times. Nothing’s normal,” he said, referring to labor shortages and supply-chain issues caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. “So it’s a great question.”

Schaefer said though the specifics are up in the air right now, he is confident there will be a positive outcome because there is so much expertise surrounding wind turbines.

“This isn’t just a unicorn and its horn fell off,” he said.

He said he is grateful for the outpouring of community support he has received since the incident. Schaefer said his father bought the business in 1976.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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