HANCOCK – Three 122-foot-long pieces of Berkshire County and American ski industry history, have arrived at the Port of Albany and await their difficult, ponderous journey to the mountaintop at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort.
The three white wind turbine blades, equal in length to the height of a 12-story building, were shipped from a GE manufacturing plant in Brazil. Once loaded onto oversized trucks, the blades begin the second leg of their journey on Friday, June 29, to continue to their new home, atop a 2,000-foot mountain and a 253-foot tower, later that day, said James Van Dyke, resort project manager.
Jiminy Peak officials are planning a dedication ceremony in mid-August, when the turbine is supposed to begin operating, likely handling most of the resort’s summer power needs, and 60 percent of the winter power demands, including chair lifts, base lodges and the especially expensive snowmaking operations. During the summer, excess power will be sold back into the grid providing sustainable power to the region.
“There was no road map that private businesses could follow to generate their own wind energy,” said Brian Fairbank, Jiminy Peak’s president and CEO.
“We learned as we went along, knowing that it was the right thing to do to reduce spiraling energy costs. By 2010, when we’ve fully documented the benefits of wind energy, we hope more ski areas will think globally and act locally by considering the cost savings that are literally blowing in the wind.”
The blades’ planned route from Albany along Routes 22 and 43 could change, but the final route will be tracked by an interactive map on the resort’s web site, www.jiminypeak.com, so anyone interested can watch the blades roll by. The map will appear by the end of May.
Other components, including the electrical components, the nacelle and the tower assembly, will travel up the mountain June 26 through 28, Van Dyke said. Rain could delay the trips up the mountain – muddy conditions could make the steep climb too treacherous for the all-wheel drive tractor hauling a custom-made oversize trailer.
Cianbro Corp. is handling the tricky job of moving the heavy equipment up the mountainside.
Once transported to the base of the mountain, a crane will be used to load the turbine parts, larger crane parts, and another conventional-size crane onto flatbeds for the trip to the top along the Left Bank trail, which has been widened to accommodate the tractors and trailers. The second smaller crane will then assemble the bigger, 420-foot crane at the site of the turbine’s foundation, 350 feet below the summit of Jiminy Peak. Once assembled, the larger crane will assemble the three-part tower and hoist the 50-ton nacelle and blades to the top of the tower.
At that point, wind could also be a factor. The construction schedule is going to be developed based on the lowest wind-condition times of the day.
“For the crane to lift the nacelle and the blades, it has to be particularly calm,” Van Dyke said.
These will be the first modern wind turbine blades to be put in use in Berkshire County, and the first to be used at a ski resort in North America.
In 1980, Brodie Mountain experimented with wind power. According to former resort manager Matt Kelly, a 45-kilowatt unit was erected on top of a 90-foot tower. It ran for a couple of years before the strength of the wind caused turbine failure.
Once completed, the $3.9 million Jiminy Peak project will have the capacity to generate 1.5 million kilowatts of electricity for the resort. The turbine is expected to pay for itself in seven years through power bill savings.
By Scott Stafford
Berkshire Eagle Staff
14 May 2007
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