Some area residents caught a glimpse of what upward of $50 million buys Tuesday, as 135-foot trucks carrying massive wind turbine parts rumbled through several Northern Berkshire communities, headed for the Hoosac Wind construction sites in Florida and Monroe.
The trucks unloaded at one of two destinations, Bakke Mountain in Florida or Crum Hill in Monroe, where a wind turbine project formerly fought out for years in the courts will see construction this summer.
Litigation delayed the project from 2004 to 2010, when Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of allowing the project to begin as early as July of that year. A local environmental group called Green Berkshires had sued, seeking review of the decision that the project complied with the Wetlands Protection Act.
According to Paul Copleman, communications manager for Iberdrola Renewables, owners of the wind project, delivery of each of the project’s 19 turbines – nine to be constructed at the Monroe site and 10 in Florida – comprises eight truckloads of material.
“The schedule calls for roughly three turbine deliveries per week over the next six to eight weeks,” Copleman said Tuesday. “That’s based on coordination with local state police and the Department of Transportation [MassDOT]. … We have large cranes at each site to start erecting the component parts as they arrive, and all the foundations are poured, so we’ll start work this week.”
Parts will be delivered Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The total cost of the project – in excess of $50 million for materials and construction with the additional legal expenses incurred during litigation – is estimated at $100 million.
The completed project could pump out as much as 30 megawatts of power into the local grid – enough to power 22,500 homes.
Wind Logistics Specialist Mihir Patel, of General Electric out of Schenectady, N.Y., said deliveries will occur between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., holding up traffic due to extremely slow travel speed.
“There are trucks coming from Albany through Hancock, Williamstown and North Adams, and those will be carrying materials and hardware for the wind turbines,” Patel said. “The trucks carrying the towers are coming down from Canada, and the trucks carrying blades from Vermont over [Route] 91 through Greenfield.”
Patel said definitive times and estimated traffic delays are unavailable, contingent as they are upon coordination with police and MassDOT.
Copleman said construction of the turbines moves relatively quickly once the components are delivered.
“The anticipated completion of the whole project will be the end of the year, but the turbines will be standing and turning well before the end of the year,” Copleman said. “Even when they are standing and spinning, though, there is still a whole lot of testing of the inner workings of the structures before they’re ready.”
The major components include blades, hubs, towers and nacelles – or, the box-shaped objects located at the point of rotation that house the electricity-generating parts. Copleman says these components were purchased from factories in New York, Texas and Florida.
“The supply chain for this project reaches out to manufacturing facilities all over the country, but also includes a lot of Massachusetts services,” he said. ” … There’s a pretty significant economic impact in-state.”
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