What might be the tallest structures ever built in Lancaster County will begin to take shape this week atop Turkey Hill overlooking the Susquehanna River.
With a live “Wind Cam” providing 24-hour coverage for the public on the Internet, twin 397-foot-high wind turbines will be constructed on a promontory at the county landfill.
Southcentral Pennsylvania’s first commercial-grade wind turbines are expected to be producing “green” electricity by Christmas – enough juice to power 750 homes.
A convoy of four 120-foot-long trucks carrying sections of the wind turbines’ towers crept through Lititz and Columbia Wednesday.
They arrived at the site next to the landfill in the afternoon, where a 300-foot-crane stood ready to go into action like a giant Erector Set.
Other parts, such as the 135-foot-long blades, generators and hubs, should be arriving shortly from production plants in such far-flung places as Quebec; Grand Forks, N.D.; and Pensa-
cola, Fla. All parts are manufactured by General Electric.
It’s expected to take only two to three weeks to assemble all the parts. But with electrical and other work, the blades will not begin generating power until sometime in December, according to James Warner, executive director of the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, which is partnering with PPL on the $9.5 million project.
From the 52-foot-diameter concrete base to the top of the tower is 262 feet. But with the blades, the turbines will stretch nearly 400 feet – more than double the height of the 14-story Griest Building in downtown Lancaster.
The turbines will be visible for miles on the Susquehanna and surrounding countryside.
So the public can view the turbines taking shape, the authority has erected a permanent Web video camera that will provide a live feed during the construction. To access the “wind cam,” go to www.lcswma.org.
The camera is mounted on a pole a couple of hundred feet high near the Frey Farm Landfill’s weather station.
The wind project is located on several acres on the outside perimeter of the active landfill that the authority purchased from Frey Dairy Farm.
Hikers on the Turkey Hill Trail will be able to walk within about 300 feet of the turbines.
The project was made possible by $4 million in tax credits and a federal stimulus fund grant.
PPL Renewable Energy owns the turbines, but the authority will be paid interest on a loan to PPL and get 12.5 percent of revenue from the sale of electricity.
“It’s a very good arrangement for us financially, and PPL as well,” Warner said.
PPL will get a 30-percent tax credit for producing alternative energy, and the project will help the utility meet a state requirement for producing renewable energy.
Each turbine is expected to produce 1.6 megawatts of electricity. All the power will be purchased by the adjacent Turkey Hill Dairy and is expected to provide about a quarter of its needs.
The waste authority and PPL went ahead with the project after studying the average wind at the promontory for a year.
It was determined that the average wind speed was 14.5 mph.
A number of local and state birding and conservation groups raised objections to the project, saying large numbers of local and migratory birds will be threatened by the rotating blades at the project’s riverside location.
But Manor Township, as well as state and federal agencies, awarded all necessary permits. Any dead birds found around the project must be reported.
A ribbon-cutting event for the turbines is scheduled for Oct. 28, with landfill neighbors and John Hangar, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection, attending.
Tours of the site for the public also will be held in the next few months, Warner said.
“We’re delighted to partner with PPL Renewables and Turkey Hill Dairy on a unique renewable energy project that is good for Lancaster County,” Warner said.
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