After meeting with Scituate selectmen on Tuesday night, town officials and residents are ready and excited to see the delivery of a 263-foot tall, $6 million wind turbine to the area next to the Water Treatment Plant on The Driftway.
It has been a lengthy process since 2008, when the renewable energy committee did an extensive study of turbine feasibility. The turbine wouldn’t see approval until 2009. Even then, the actual turbine itself wouldn’t be fabricated until August of 2011.
Finished in October at a manufacturing plant in China, the turbine has been in route via ship and is expected to be delivered to Providence, RI on Jan. 8. Despite all the work that has been done up to this point, the most difficult part of the process will begin this month.
Sumul Shah, the Chief Executive Officer for Solaya Energy LLC, a main partner with Scituate Wind LLC and the driving force behind Scituate’s turbine, outlined the steps with selectmen on Tuesday, showing a slideshow complete with pictures of the progress.
“Over the next week and a half we’ll be building the crane and into the next couple of weeks assembling the turbine,” Shah said. “We expect over the next few months to be building the turbine, testing, commissioning, and in April be somewhat operational.”
The turbine will take approximately five days to travel from Providence to Scituate, and the company will use specialized vehicles to transport the numerous parts.
The route is carefully engineered, Shah said, and not finalized until a few days before delivery. Even then, when the pieces will take to Route 95 to begin the trip is essentially at the mercy of the state police.
“It’s something very carefully engineered,” Shah said. “All the components have some issue. They are very heavy, long and wide, so each component takes a different kind of truck to transport on roads. As a result, there may be a route that can handle long roads, like the blade, but that same route might not be able to handle heavy components, like the cell, the middle of the turbine that sits on top of the tower…
“There are slight restrictions for every truck. All of those things are engineered,” he said.
Most likely the turbine will travel up I-95, over I-495, across local roads through Bridgewater, Hanover, and into Scituate.
“The most challenging part is crossing the rotary. There is no way to go around it, so we’re going to have to go over it,” Shah said.
Although delivery is a logistical game, the most exciting part it the turbine assembly. Two cranes will move turbine pieces from their horizontal position on the ground to their vertical placements, eventually being placed in the air one on top of the other.
Interestingly enough, although the spot was chosen for its wind propensity, turbines can only be erected when there is limited wind. As such, crews spend much time waiting for perfect wind conditions to assemble the turbine.
“It’s hard to predict times, as it’s subject to wind conditions a the moment. It’s very much a day-to-day scheduling activity. We have scheduling and safety briefings…and that plan gets adjusted on a daily basis,” Shah said.
Once up, the turbine will undergo monitoring and testing through the month of February. Final checks are done by the town’s local utility and by the company once more before anything is turned on.
“In our experience…from the day we flipped the switch, it took 2-3 days to fix all the bugs…minor things, but took 2-3 days to get everything fine tuned, and it’s been running beautifully since then – over 99 percent available,” Shah said. “That’s what we expect and we hope for in Scituate.”
Selectmen were impressed with the presentation and thrilled to see the progress unfold.
“We are in full support of you. Its not just a money initiative, it’s a green initiative, and we’re pleased with both sides of the project,” Selectmen chair Anthony Vegnani said.
Residents in the audience were curious as to how they could watch and see the progress unfold. According to Bangert, information will be available on the town’s website.
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