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Scituate officials await town turbine, breaths bated  

Credit:  By Jessica Bartlett, Globe Correspondent, www.boston.com 8 January 2012 ~~

If all goes according to plan – and that is a big if – the $6 million wind turbine that has been four years in the planning may arrive in Scituate within a week.

The turbine, which was manufactured in China, was finished in October and has been at sea for the past two months. It was expected to arrive in Providence today.

From there, the structure – 400 feet from the base to the tip of its blades – is slated to begin an arduous and complicated journey by road to Scituate.

“It’s something very carefully engineered. All the components have some issue,’’ said Sumul Shah, the chief executive for Solaya Energy LLC, a main partner with Scituate Wind LLC and the driving force behind Scituate’s turbine. “They are very heavy, long, and wide, so each component takes a different kind of truck to transport on roads,’’ he said.

The massive structure will be brought in parts to Scituate over the course of five days. Officials hope the turbine will be in town by Jan. 13, but “these things are very fluid,’’ Shah said. “Even if we had a definite plan, it would likely change tomorrow.’’

When it is up and working, the wind turbine is expected to provide half of the town’s municipal power needs, supplying electricity to buildings, schools, street lights, and the harbor.

“In the 15 years we have a contract, it will save us $4.4 million in reduced energy costs,’’ said Albert Bangert, the town’s public works director.

Scituate officials said the turbine also will have benefits that are environmental – it will be the equivalent of taking 581 cars off the road – and educational – schools will be able to monitor the turbine through a website and learn about wind energy through its construction.

Below-ground construction has been completed on land next to the town’s waste-water treatment facility, where the turbine will be erected, and the site now has a road big enough to transport the pieces into the staging area.

From Providence, the turbine will travel via Interstate 95, then will leave the highway and pass through Bridgewater, Hanover, and eventually into Scituate, where the parts will have to traverse local roads, maneuver through the Scituate rotary, and eventually make their way to the treatment plant site off the Driftway.

The turbine will be brought into town in three main parts: the cell – the hub of power that goes at the center of the turbine; the blades – three long, but generally light pieces; and the tower sections – four parts that get heavier and shorter the closer they are to the base.

There may be routes that can handle the longer pieces like the blades, but not the heavy components like the cell, Shah said. “There are slight restrictions for every truck. All of those things are engineered,’’ he said.

Solaya hired a company to take precise measurements and analyze the route to ensure that the expensive turbine parts remain safe during delivery.

Once delivered, two cranes and a large staff of engineers will work to get the structure up and running.

“We’ll do as much on the ground as possible before starting to lift’’ the pieces, Shah said. “The turbine assembly process may start as early as next week and go into the following week. We’ll take seven to 10 days to erect the turbine, but all of this depends on weather.’’

Ironically, crews need limited wind to erect the turbine, and so crews will have to wait until the opportune moment to put the pieces into place.

Shah anticipates testing on the wind turbine to begin next month, with the device operational by April. It is a quick process, he said, but one that might surprise observers.

“It will [take a long time] to people that are on site watching it all the time. But if you go away and come back, it will look like it came from nowhere,’’ Shah said.

The construction has Scituate residents and many town officials at a fever pitch.

At a selectmen’s meeting last Tuesday, residents asked where they could find information on the turbine, and how they could track its progress.

“I appreciate all this hard work, [even going back to] the renewable energy committee,’’ said Jay Silva, a Captain Pierce Road resident.

Perhaps no one is as enthralled by the project as Bangert.

With the project since its inception, the public works chief is eager to see all his effort and long hours pay off with a turbine up and running.

“It’s been a lot of work, a lot of work associated with the little details,’’ Bangert said.

“It will be nice. When I wrote my family Christmas card, I did include the fact that the turbine is going up.

“You can see I’m proud of that.’’

Source:  By Jessica Bartlett, Globe Correspondent, www.boston.com 8 January 2012

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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