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Wolfe Island wind farm construction begins  

Workers widen roads, build new ones to prepare for arrival of 86 giant turbines

The first shovels went into the ground on Wolfe Island this week for the start of construction on a $400-million wind power mega-project.

Workers are widening some roads and building new ones in the rural community to prepare for the arrival of 86 giant turbines via barge on Lake Ontario, expected to begin as early as next week.

The wind farm is expected to be operational by this Christmas or early 2009.

Until then, the quaint island is expected

to be a bustling with activity with as many as 250 workers employed on the project at the peak of construction this September, when the turbines will likely be erected.

Contractors, labourers and the equipment necessary for the project will travel to and from the island by barge to the winter dock instead of the publicly funded ferry.

Mike Jablonicky, the site supervisor, said construction is starting as the proponent, Calgary-based Canadian Hydro Developers Inc., is still in the process of getting the necessary approvals.

“The approvals work themselves along with the project,” he said.

Last month, Canadian Hydro moved one step closer to construction in the approvals process when the province rejected several requests from citizens and environmental groups for more government scrutiny on the project.

They had made the request for closer review of the project because of their concern about the location of the turbines and their impact on birds.

The turbines, which each measure 80 metres high from the base to the centre of the rotor, were manufactured in Denmark by Siemens and have already been shipped to Ogdensburg, N. Y. At least 40 of the 86 that will be erected on Wolfe Island have arrived in the northern New York State city on Lake Ontario.

From there, the turbines will be sent via barge to Wolfe Island.

The turbines are so large in fact that each of the 86 to be erected on Wolfe Island will require its own barge to be shipped from Ogdensburg.

Each machine will provide 2.3 megawatts of electricity and will cost about $4.75 million, including transportation to Wolfe Island and installation.

The three blades of the turbine and the rectangular box located behind them will together weigh roughly 100 metric tonnes, or as much as 50 mid-sized cars.

Just the rectangular-shaped nacelle, which houses the shaft, a large gearbox and a generator, is about three-quarters the size of a Greyhound bus.

To prepare for the arrival of these mammoth machines, construction crews have started building two access roads to transport the turbines from the winter ferry dock at Dawson Point on Wolfe Island to what’s called a laydown area, where the machines will be stored until they’ll be erected at various locations on the southwest portion of the island.

“These roads basically help the trucks get to the laydown area and allow for the large turning radius these trucks need,” said Jablonicky.

To get the turbines from the barge to the laydown area, the machines will require special turbine transport trucks that are large enough to move them.

“These are trucks that have trailers that have been built to haul turbine components,” said Jablonicky.

“It’s like a tractor that’s a little beefier, heavier and a little more heavy duty. The trailer itself has been built to move [turbine] tower components. There is also a blade truck that has been specially designed and there’s a couple of other units involved that can be shipped on a flatbed very easily.”

The turbines will be moved from the winter dock along a new access road that will be built and then along Highway 96 for about a kilometre to the garbage dump.

Crews are planning to build a second road to transport the turbines from Highway 96 to the laydown area, which is about half a kilometre south of the garbage dump on Wolfe Island.

As well, workers will soon start constructing more than 20 different service roads from township roads to the actual locations of the turbines.

By Jennifer Pritchett

The Kingston Whig-Standard

11 July 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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