Fact check: Storm damaged a wind turbine in Texas, not a heat wave

The claim: Heat wave in Texas melted a wind turbine

Several areas of Texas reached triple-digit temperatures amid a mid-June heat wave, and state utility regulators urged residents to conserve energy, USA TODAY reported.

The accompanying increase in air conditioner use sparked unexpected outages at power plants.

But a recent Facebook post claims the heat did even more than that.

“Current wave of heat melts a wind turbine in Texas,” reads a June 17 post that features an image of a damaged turbine with its blades drooping downward.

The post accumulated more than 700 interactions in the first week, and otherversions of the claim also circulated on social media.

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But the state’s scorching temperatures are not to blame for the damage.

USA TODAY reached out to the user for comment.

Damage was caused by storm

Days before the Facebook post, National Weather Service Houston tweeted an image that matches the one in the post and cited a storm as the cause of damage.

The turbine is part of a project from RWE Renewables, a wind company and international provider of renewable energy.

The damaged turbine is one of the 48 at the Peyton Creek Wind Farm, a facility located in Matagorda County, Texas.

“There was a storm in the area with wind and lightning,” Dan Reilly, a NWS Houston warning coordination meteorologist, told USA TODAY.

This storm was potentially the cause of damage, said Matt Tulis, communication manager for RWE Renewables.

Tulis said this was the only turbine affected, and the onsite team is evaluating the cause and extent of the damage. But he said in an email it “was definitely NOT related to heat or high temperatures.”

“This is a very rare event for us, and I can’t think of another instance where weather may have affected one of RWE’s turbines in this way,” said Tulis.

Our rating: False

We rate the claim that a heat wave in Texas melted a wind turbine FALSE, based on our research. National Weather Service Houston tweeted that the turbine had been damaged by a storm, and a NWS Houston meteorologist confirmed there was a storm in the area. The communication manager for the company that owns the turbine told USA TODAY the storm likely caused the damage, but it wasn’t caused by heat in any case.

Our fact-checking sources:

  • Facebook post, June 17
  • USA TODAY, June 16, Abnormal temperatures are baking the Western US in triple digits. These heat waves could become the new normal.
  • USA TODAY, June 17, People In Texas, California urged to conserve energy amid heat wave
  • National Weather Service Houston, June 14, tweet
  • RWE, RWE Renewables Americas, LLC, accessed June 21
  • RWE, Our projects in North America, accessed June 21
  • Dan Reilly, NWS Houston, June 21, phone interview with USA TODAY
  • Matt Tulis, RWE Renewables, June 21, email exchange with USA TODAY

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