The wind farm at Mount Storm that dominates much of the skyline along the Allegheny Mountain is behind schedule but moving forward.
The Keyser Lions Club got a report on the construction of 132 electric-generating wind turbines Thursday evening with a presentation on the NedPower Wind Project at Mount Storm adjacent to the Dominion coal-fired power plant.
Eli Mastin, project manager for Mortenson Construction of Minneapolis, Minn., the company that is building the wind farm for project developer NedPower, said that phase one, which includes 82 wind turbines, is about 75 percent complete.
The project will be operated by Shell Wind Energy and Dominion Power of Virginia.
Mastin said that parts for the some of the turbine towers had to be sent back to the manufacturer and new parts are being sent.
“The project started in 2006,” he said. “And while six to nine months is typical for construction of such a project, we (Mortenson) have been on this one for 18 months now.”
Mastin said that the foundations for the turbines include several hundred cubic yards of concrete. “They are 8 feet deep and 58 feet across with 100 tons of rebar in each,” he said. “We can build two of the foundations a day.”
He described the bases as upside-down mushrooms.
He said the company is proud of the fact that it put in the first 275,000 man-hours on the project without an injury. “Though we have had some since, that is still a great accomplishment on a project of this type,” he said.
Mastin said the company has installed 18 miles of roadway. “The roads are 35 feet wide of limestone,” he said, which is necessary to get the cranes and other equipment into each site. “It’s almost a superhighway.”
“There is a swamp up there,” he said. “In some places we had put boulders to keep the roads stable … there is substantial fill.”
He said that there are 395,000 feet of cable between the turbines and the substation.
Each turbine tower is constructed in four sections that range from 65 to 90 feet in length and the turbine blades are 145 feet in length.
The turbines are made by Gamesa, a company with headquarters in Spain. “They have the third-largest market share in the world,” Mastin said.
Most of the turbines made in the United States are for light, steady winds.
“The ones here are built for higher wind speeds,” he said.
He told the Lions that the life span of a wind turbine is about 20 years but that he expects that within 10 to 12 years the turbines they are installing will be replaced by bigger ones.
He said that technology will likely advance to the point that the need for 100 turbines will be reduced to 20 and these will be taken down and scrapped or resold.
The turbines the company is installing at Mount Storm are two megawatts and the cost is roughly $1 million per megawatt.
About 60 people are working for Mortenson at the site and most of them are local. As many as 300 people have been employed on the site and as the weather warms it will go back up to about 100.
The second phase of the project, which Mastin described as the second largest east of the Mississippi River, will begin as the weather improves. That will be the installation of another 50 turbines south of the current location.
He said the largest project is in upstate New York.
Mortenson field engineer Josh Gustafson addressed questions concerning the brake systems on the turbines, which are pitched out of the wind until the construction is completed and they become operational.
That gearbox controls the speed and the blades all turn at the same speed, roughly 23 revolutions per minute.
The project will be controlled remotely via the Internet, said Mastin, who said that it will employ about 20 maintenance people when completed.
By Mona Ridder
8 March 2008
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