NextEra Energy donates borescopes to Northeastern’s wind program

The borescopes allow students to use modern remote visual inspection techniques to learn how wind-generation equipment works. (Courtesy: NextEra)

Northeastern Junior College’s Wind Technology program has received a pair of borescopes donated by NextEra Energy Resources, one of the largest energy generation companies in the United States.

The borescopes, each valued in the thousands of dollars, allow Northeastern students to use modern remote visual inspection techniques to learn how wind-generation equipment works, said Jim Lenzen, assistant director of Renewable Energy at Northeastern.

“This generous donation by NextEra not only enables us to improve our students’ learning experience, it will make it much safer to learn how to perform wind equipment diagnostics,” Lenzen said. “We won’t have to tear down and reassemble defective components each semester, which allows us more time to focus on other hands-on learning experiences.”

A typical borescope is a device with a tiny camera and light source at the end of a long flexible thin probe. It is designed to gain visibility into otherwise hard-to-access spaces. Operators can manipulate the camera remotely via manual or electronic controls. Just as a physician uses an endoscope to peer into areas of the body for signs of injury or infection without major surgery, a borescope is used by wind-generation maintenance technicians to inspect the insides of gearboxes for defects or extensive wear, such as cracks in gear teeth, breaks and wear patterns, and pits in bearings. Borescopes capture pictures and information during inspections that can be logged and sent to a team of engineers for further analysis in a process known as preventative maintenance. The borescopes donated to Northeastern by NextEra are equipped with the same types of cameras used in real-world wind industry applications.

NextEra operates a large wind farm near Peetz, Colorado, where a number of Northeastern alumni work as maintenance technicians.

“This is a win-win for us to have NextEra as an industry partner,” Lenzen said. “The folks we work with appreciate the dedicated, hands-on program we offer students here and see the benefit of hiring technicians experienced at using the donated equipment NextEra also uses in its day-to-day operations.”

NextEra spokesperson Roxanne Reyes said the company is proud to be part of the Logan County, Colorado, community.

“Since 2007 we’ve operated the Logan Wind Energy Center, a 201-MW wind site that brings clean and reliable energy to the Centennial State,” she said. “Our partnership with Northeastern Junior College is mutually beneficial, and the program has our continued support for its efforts to teach the next generation of wind technicians in this rapidly-growing field of renewable energy.”