The first Wind Turbine bases for the Quality Wind Project rolled past Tumbler Ridge Monday, February 6 after an adventurous trip from Portland, Oregon. Turbine manufacturer Vestas has 19 bases completed and planned to ship them over the next few weeks, well in advance of schedule. However, spring-like conditions in Southern Alberta means that the Alberta Ministry of Transportation has implemented thaw bans.
Only the first three trucks were able to make it into the province before the ban took effect February 2 at midnight.
Jason Tusor, Public Consultation Manager for Capital Power, says that he’s not worried about the bans. “This isn’t really a delay. Remember, these bases weren’t expected until May. They were just going to be delivered early, because Vestas had them ready.”
The warm weather led to some adventurous driving conditions up north. While the main highways were clear, it took the trucks nearly two days to make it from Beaverlodge to Tumbler Ridge, because of the icy conditions. “We had to get a tractor to help pull us up the hills” said one of the drivers.
The bases spent Saturday and Sunday at the Co-op Cardlock just outside of town before heading up the hill on Monday morning. A tractor was on hand to help navigate the last steep sections along “A” road, where the bases will stay until installation starts, probably in May.
The unseasonably warm weather is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, and Tusor says that Capital Power and Vestas are monitoring the situation.
Construction on the 142-megawatt wind project was delayed this spring, due to near-torrential rains. However, improved weather in late summer and into fall allowed the project to get back on schedule.
The road ban is currently in place from the US border to Township 28, north of Calgary. As roads warm up, the ground beneath them begins to thaw. This makes the roads susceptible to damage until things dry out. Kim Durdle, Director of Transport, says that southern Alberta is seeing temperatures well above zero during the day. “These wonky weather conditions means that right now the frostline is north of Calgary. There’s no frost down south at all.”
The unusual conditions means that Durdle is not willing to make any promises as to when the bans will be lifted. “We could turn around and in two weeks we could have temperatures down around -40, or the warm weather could continue until spring. We just don’t know.”
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