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Wind turbines arrive in Freedom (some assembly required)

The last of 27 massive component parts of the three wind turbines arrived Aug. 15 at the top of Beaver Ridge, where they now lie, waiting to be assembled. Andy Price of Beaver Ridge Wind, developers of the project, said he expects the turbines to be standing by the second week of September. The blades will remain locked until the end of October, by which time Central Maine Power estimates it will have completed the transmission system. At full capacity, the turbines will generate 4.5 megawatts of electricity

A woman with a house near the center of Thorndike said it didn't take long for a crew from Cianbro to sink a new utility pole in her front yard.

Many landowners have been experiencing something similar as workers make steady progress - roughly 10 poles per day - along routes 220 and 137.

The woman said she hadn't noticed the power go out yet, but then the new poles aren't going up to replace the old ones.

Standing a good five feet above the existing power lines they shadow along the route, each of the new utility poles bears an orange insulating cuff to keep the contractors from getting "jumped" by the standing power lines.

The poles are topped with a single cross arm looped with bare aluminum cables that will transmit 34,500 volts in triplicate from three wind turbines on top of Beaver Ridge, through the woods to Route 137, then east to Knox Corner where the poles make a sharp left, heading up Route 220 and terminating at a sand pit in Thorndike.

At that site an electrical substation will route the electricity into the northeast United States power grid.

The last of 27 massive component parts of the three wind turbines arrived Aug. 15 at the top of Beaver Ridge, where they now lie,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A woman with a house near the center of Thorndike said it didn't take long for a crew from Cianbro to sink a new utility pole in her front yard.

Many landowners have been experiencing something similar as workers make steady progress - roughly 10 poles per day - along routes 220 and 137.

The woman said she hadn't noticed the power go out yet, but then the new poles aren't going up to replace the old ones.

Standing a good five feet above the existing power lines they shadow along the route, each of the new utility poles bears an orange insulating cuff to keep the contractors from getting "jumped" by the standing power lines.

The poles are topped with a single cross arm looped with bare aluminum cables that will transmit 34,500 volts in triplicate from three wind turbines on top of Beaver Ridge, through the woods to Route 137, then east to Knox Corner where the poles make a sharp left, heading up Route 220 and terminating at a sand pit in Thorndike.

At that site an electrical substation will route the electricity into the northeast United States power grid.

The last of 27 massive component parts of the three wind turbines arrived Aug. 15 at the top of Beaver Ridge, where they now lie, waiting to be assembled.

Andy Price of Beaver Ridge Wind, developers of the project, said he expects the turbines to be standing by the second week of September. The blades will remain locked until the end of October, by which time Central Maine Power estimates it will have completed the transmission system.

At full capacity, the turbines will generate 4.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 2,000 homes. The laws of physics will keep the electricity from Beaver Ridge in local towns, but the finances are more complex.

In addition to being a partner in Beaver Ridge Wind, Price works for Competitive Energy Systems, an energy brokerage agency. Price said much of what CES does is try to find inexpensive energy for clients. But some are willing to pay a premium for "green" power.

CES currently sells hydroelectric and wind energy, independently or in combination under the brand name Maine Renewable Energy.

The only existing grid-scale wind power facility in the state is a 28-turbine facility in Mars Hill, but another 10 are currently planned or under construction.

At 4.5 megawatts, Beaver Ridge is likely to be the smallest by a factor of 10.

A 400-turbine wind farm is in development in Aroostook County that would generate 800 MW. The project is still in the planning stages, but co-developers Horizon Wind Energy and Linekin Bay Energy are planning a phased construction beginning in 2010.

At the other end of the spectrum, several island communities in the Midcoast are considering cooperative wind farms for local use.

The Beaver Ridge development is small in comparison to other efforts but the turbines are nothing if not gigantic. Standing beside a propeller blade is like being in the company of a whale, or more accurately, a giant headless tadpole.

Each battleship gray fin bulges near the rotor connection then narrows, following a complex curve toward a tip not much different in shape and scale than a surfboard. In the completed turbine, the blades will extend to 400 feet above the ground at their highest reach.

Compared with the propellers, the rest of the turbine components would be unremarkable if they were not so enormous. At one turbine site, the nose cone-shaped rotor stood next to a large cube housing computer controls that will be able to adjust the pitch of the propeller blades for greater efficiency.

The nacelle - a gearbox that translates the blade rotations into electricity - sat mute by the site's dirt access road like a doorless, windowless, recreational camper.

Ronald Price, who owns the land where the turbines are being erected, compared the 15-foot-diameter, tapered cylinders that will make up the tower to his memories of early rocket technology.

Price was a dairy farmer for 40 years in nearby Knox, and the transition to wind farming has an air of continuity about it. Of the 55 tillable acres on Beaver Ridge, Price will lose about one to the windmills. Some of the land directly around the turbines is barren, but the property is already bookended by fields of soybeans.

Standing 20 feet from one of the three 90-ton concrete footings on the site, Price said he was pretty sure he would be able to farm the land right up to the base of the windmill.

"Where we're standing now," he said, "I'll be cutting hay ... or corn." The windmills, he added, will have the effect of protecting a large area of farmland from future development at no cost to taxpayers.

Price has his arguments in place, and it's no surprise. Almost since it was proposed in 2006, the Beaver Ridge development has been met by a small but vocal opposition, comprised mostly of abutting landowners.

A group of residents currently has two legal actions pending on the site. Ed Bearor, attorney for the opposition group, named Steve Bennett, Erin Bennett-Wade and Jeff Keating as the principals but said that the group includes around a dozen other signers.

Bearor said an action challenging the developer's building permits is pending in Superior Court. The state Legislature, in its most recent session, passed a suite of additions to state statues intended to both encourage new wind power projects and mitigate their potential environmental and aesthetic impacts.

Bearor said the building permit challenge hinges on this new legislation.

In a separate action, the opposition is challenging the right of BRW to use the access road leading to the site. A recent attempt to secure a temporary restraining order was tossed out after a judge concluded that BRW had not widened the roadway or removed trees on Keating's property. Bearor said the restraining order is currently under reconsideration.

Concerns about the windmills often center on the amount and quality of sound that the turbines produce. Anecdotal evidence from people who live near existing wind farms ranges from those who don't notice any sound or find the sound agreeable, to others who tell horror stories of an incessant, pulsing, low-frequency rumble that can never be entirely tuned out.

In the summer of 2006, 40 Freedom residents traveled by bus to Hull, Mass. to listen to the city's single 1.8 MW turbine. According to Price, one visitor took decibel readings at the site. The ambient noise at the base of the turbine was 55-56 db. Freedom noise ordinance prohibits levels above 55db at the property line and 45db at a residence.

Beaver Ridge Wind hired a consultant to create a computer model of the windmills on site using specifications from General Electric and anemometer readings that BRW had taken on site over a period of 18 months.

For the model, Beaver Ridge was treated as a "moonscape," or absent the vegetation that tends to dampen outdoor noise. The readings came out within local regulatory limits, but some residents weren't convinced.

If the windmills go up, it's possible that both supporters and detractors will be right in some measure. Personal sensitivity to sound, wind direction, topography and the number of turbines all seem to factor into the negative impact on any given person living in proximity to a wind farm, making the actual impact to neighbors of Beaver Ridge difficult to determine in advance.

For the time being, the windmills appear to be going up. Even so, Bearor said that either of the pending legal actions could stop the project in its tracks.


Source: http://waldo.villagesoup.co...

AUG 21 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/16642-wind-turbines-arrive-in-freedom-some-assembly-required
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