Thursday, December 23, 2010

And Then There Were Two

Construction of MWCC's second 1.65 MW Vestas V82 wind turbine was completed on Friday, Dec. 17 with the twilight lift of the massive rotor.

Construction of the south turbine tower began on Friday, Dec. 10, when the base component was set in place. On Monday, Dec. 14, the remaining sections of the tower were assembled, followed by the nacelle the next day.

Now that both turbines are up, work will continue to link them to the college's electrical system. In early 2011, both towers will be commissioned to ensure they are operating properly, training will take place for members of the facilities department, and the turbines will go online with National Grid, said MWCC Resident Engineer Ed Terceiro.

"Our hope is to have them operational in late January or early February," he said.

Over the past decade, the college has made extraordinary strides in renewable energy initiatives, saving nearly $4 million in utility costs while simultaneously benefitting the environment, MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino said.

The $9 million wind project, part of the Massachusetts Leading By Example renewable energy initiative, is being funded through a variety of sources, including $3.2 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants secured by Congressman John Olver; $2.1 million from a low interest Clean Renewal Energy Bond (CREB) made available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act; and $3.7 million from Massachusetts Clean Energy Investment Bonds.

Monday, December 13, 2010

MWCC Broadcasting Alumna Showcases Wind Project

MWCC’s wind energy project caught the attention of alumna Liz Burke, now a broadcasting student at Emerson College in Boston. She returned to the Gardner campus recently to film a segment on the project, interviewing students and President Asquino for a clip created as a class assignment that also aired on WEBN Boston, one of Emerson’s top news channels.

“I chose to do the piece because I believed it made for a great story,” said Liz, who came to MWCC at age 16 as a dual-enrollment student and graduated at age 18 with her associate degree in May 2009. “I think it’s excellent how the college is going the extra mile when it comes to being environmentally friendly. It’s not something many colleges have done.”

To check out Liz’s report, click here: Liz Burke on MWCC Wind Project

Sunday, December 5, 2010

One Up, One to Go!

With one turbine up and one to go, MWCC’s wind energy project has reached the halfway mark! Work crews last week attached the three massive blades to the turbine’s hub, then hoisted the entire rotor into place at the top of a 270-foot tower today.
Ironically, it was the wind itself that played a significant role in when the rotor would be set in place, as high gusts and steady breezes on numerous days factored into the decision of when to complete the assembly. “Once we got it in the air, it went very well,” said MWCC Resident Engineer Ed Terceiro.
Waiting at the top to attach the final section were four workers that includes local residents Jean and Chris Cormier, who work for Lumus Construction of Wilmington, Tom MacIsaac, also from Lumus, and Richard Jenkins of Texas, a technician with Vestas, which manufactured the college’s two 1.65 MW turbines.  As a crane operator maneuvered the rotor into place and the four-member team secured it, other members of the construction team were stationed on three tag lines, holding onto ropes attached to the blades to prevent them from spinning.
Throughout the construction of the north turbine, local residents, students and other members of the college community paused to marvel at the extraordinary site. Onlookers yesterday included Gardner resident Ken Johnson, a mechanical engineer with Bose audio company, who was headed to the Fitness & Wellness Center for a workout, but decided to watch the construction instead.
“I was just amazed by the sheer size of the turbines when they were delivered, then over the last couple of weeks I watched the tower go up, and was just fortunate enough to see the blades go up today.” Watching the crew on top of the turbine led him to wonder, “Is there a ladder or a spiral staircase in there?”
Gardner resident Phil Goguen has a nephew who works for a heavy equipment company in Canada that has taken part in turbine construction, and came out to the college to see such a project first-hand. “It’s something you don’t see every day.”
This coming week, the giant Manitowac crane will begin its crawl down the access road to the site of the south turbine, which will be assembled next. Construction is scheduled to begin this week.
Photos by Art Collins and Janice O’Connor of MWCC.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tower, Nacelle Go Up on North Turbine

The greatest engineering feat on campus since the biomass conversion nearly a decade ago is underway, as crews continue to assemble the first of two Vestas V-82 1.65 MW wind turbines.

After the base was installed on Nov. 20 and sealed with grout, additional sections of the 270-foot tower were installed on Nov. 22 and 23. Following that work, the nacelle, bearing the college's initials and logo, was installed on Nov. 23. Construction will continue Friday, Nov. 26. Once the blades are attached to the hub, the rotor will be lifted into place next week. Then, the assembly process will be repeated for the south turbine.

Students, employees and passersby paused to witness various aspects of the assembly. As each piece was added to create the tower, one couldn't help but marvel at the trio of workers stationed inside, ready to attach and torque the components after they were maneuvered into place by a crane operator from Baldwin Crane and Equipment Corp. of Wilmington. The crew climbing the rungs of an internal ladder to do the assembly consists of Richard Jenkins of Texas, a project technician with Vestas; and a local father and son team, Jean and Chris Cormier, who work for Lumus Construction of Wilmington. Chris Cormier, is a business administration major at MWCC.

One of the differences between open field work, in building construction, for example, and wind turbine construction is "they climb on the outside and we climb on the inside," said Jenkins, who has erected over 150 turbines. "Once you get inside the tower, the height issue goes away. You get a view that no one else gets."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

First Base: Crane Sets North Turbine Base in Place

The base component of the north turbine was hoisted into the air and set in place by a mammoth crane on Saturday, following weeks of intense preparation for the lift and marking yet another milestone for MWCC's wind project.

"There are 120 pins that it sits on and it has to be perfectly lined up. It was an anxious moment, but it was very successful," said MWCC Resident Engineer Ed Terceiro, who had the honor of attaching the final bolt.

The base was sealed with grout, which will set for two days before additional pieces are installed. On Monday, the remaining tower sections will be added, followed by the nacelle on top. On Tuesday, the hub and blades are slated to go up. The process will be repeated the week of Nov. 29 for the south turbine.

Prior to the lift, 33 forty-foot trucks delivered crane parts over the course of nine days. A crew of six men assembled the crane that is being used to hoist the turbine components into place.

Among the tasks Friday, print shop manager Don Knower worked with D&G Custom Graphics of Fitchburg to adhere the college's logo and initials to both nacelles.  "We've lettered some weird stuff, but this takes the cake," said D&G manager John Dupont.

Photos courtesy of J.K. Scanlan Project Supervisor Joe DiPietro.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Green Society: Active on campus & in the community

The Green Society, MWCC's enterprising sustainability club for students, has not only left an indelible mark on campus, but has gained a name for itself in the community as well. For the past few years, club members have volunteered at the annual North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival in Orange and at the Thanksgiving Harvest Festival at Red Apple Farm in Phillipston.

On Saturday, Nov. 20, club members and their advisor, Professor Tom Montagno, will once again sponsor and oversee two of the popular "X-Games" at the harvest festival: the "Hay Bale Tossing"championship and the "World Wood Stacking Competition." Prizes go to the participants who can fling hay bales the farthest and stack a cord of wood faster and neater than others. The festival, now in its 8th year, promotes buying locally grown food and supports local farmers by providing an opportunity for people to purchase fresh produce, crafts and other goods in time for the holidays.

In October, club members again volunteered at the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival, dubbed "the festival that stinks." Their task - recycling and composting trash - may not sound glamorous, but the results certainly are remarkable. More than 10,000 people attended this year, yet once the volunteers were done sorting biodegradable utensils, bottles, food scraps and other recyclables from the refuse, the trash was condensed to just two bags!

This fall, club members have been busy maintaining two ongoing projects on campus: the organic Kitchen Garden alongside the greenhouse, and composting kitchen scraps to reduce the amount of garbage going into the trash stream. The club rebuilt the garden beds, planted garlic for use next year, and planted alfalfa to feed more nitrogen into the soil. In the spring, vegetables and herbs will be planted for use in meals prepared by The Green Street Cafe. And, once this winter's snow has come and gone, watch for the club's annual "bulb sale" (energy-efficient light bulbs, that is), as well as continued participation in the Community Garden on campus.

Pictured: Several members of The Green Society with Professor Tom Montagno at the Kitchen Garden.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Turbine Foundation Deja Vu

Construction crews built the second foundation at MWCC’s wind energy site this week, duplicating last week's process of creating a solid ring of steel and concrete that will anchor the two turbines into the earth.

Earlier in the week, crews installed reinforcing steel, which will increase the strength of the concrete. Then, on Thursday, crews from S&F Concrete filled the foundation structure with approximately 85 yards of a specialty concrete.
Next week, 30 to 35 trucks are expected to arrive - hauling onto campus the components that will make up the super-crane that will erect the two turbines. The Manitowoc 2250 crane is so large in fact, that it will take another crane just assemble it!

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Firm Foundation

Talk about a firm foundation! The wind turbines at MWCC literally will be anchored to the earth through extraordinary engineering that requires one-third less concrete and other materials than a traditional gravity foundation.
“We’re basically nailing them to the ground,” explained Lloyd Purdy, an engineering technician with EarthSystems Global, Inc., who is on site this week for the foundation work. The California-based company works with Patrick and Henderson, Inc. in providing engineering design support for wind projects.
MWCC’s turbines are being installed with P&H rock/pile anchor foundations. Last week, crews from Emerald Excavation of Plymouth (a WBE – Women Business Enterprise) excavated the two foundation holes. That’s the same company that built the access road and completed the duct bank trenching this summer. Once the holes were excavated, Boart Longyear, a global company based in Utah with a Massachusetts branch in North Reading, drilled 45 to 65 feet into soil and bedrock to install 18 anchors per foundation.
This week, reinforcing steel, called re-bar, was installed in the north turbine foundation to increase the strength of the concrete. Today, crews from S&F Concrete of Hudson filled the foundation structure with 85 yards of a specialty concrete that reaches a higher strength faster than ordinary concrete. Testing agents from Geotechnical Consultants, Inc. of Marlboro and Miller Engineering & Testing of Northboro are providing quality assurance/quality control while the foundation work ensues.
Next week, the process will be repeated when the foundation is built for the south turbine.
“It’s an awesome milestone,” remarked Ted Fiffi, resident engineer with the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Who's Who on the Wind Project?

Who’s involved with MWCC’s wind project? Or rather, who’s not? Well over 100 people will play significant roles in the construction of the two Vestas V82 turbines on the college’s Gardner campus: a team from the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management; Falmouth-based J.K. Scanlan Company, Inc., the general contractor; civil, structural and electrical engineers; project managers and supervisors; drilling contractors; excavators; concrete subcontractors; electricians; truck drivers; crane operators and crane mechanics; turbine technicians; accountants and financial managers, for starters.
And that doesn’t include the specialists involved during years of planning, studies and design; those who secured and are administering federal and state funding for the project; the state agencies and leaders working behind the scenes; the folks from National Grid who will oversee interconnection; or those who manufactured the tower components, long before this summer’s groundbreaking.
While construction continues, a team of 10 key players gathers weekly in the Drake Boardroom to hash out details of the DCAM project, which is part of Massachusetts’ overarching initiative to achieve greater energy independence by 2020.
Seated at the table from DCAM are David Fang, project manager, and local residents Phil Godin, project engineer and Ted Fiffy, resident engineer. From J.K. Scanlan, which was awarded $18.6 million in contracts to build MWCC’s turbines and the neighboring towers going up at the North Central Correctional Institution, you’ll find Andrew Baker, project executive; Greg Inman, project manager; Joe DiPietro, project supervisor; and Chris Grant, general superintendent and safety officer.
Rounding out this construction team are the players from the Mount: Vice President of Finance and Administration Bob LaBonte, who oversees the financial aspects for the college as well as the facilities department, and Bill Swift, director of maintenance and mechanical systems, who ultimately will be among those responsible for the daily operations of the turbines. And of course, there’s Ed Terceiro, MWCC's resident engineer, who as executive vice president set the college down its green path a decade ago with President Daniel Asquino, and kept forging ahead to reach this project, which now amounts to the fifth renewable energy source on the campus.
"DCAM Commissioner David Perini appreciates Ed's experience, not only for this project, but all of the renewable projects on the campus," David Fang said.

For David Fang and Phil Godin, the Mount’s a familiar place. Both took part in building the Garrison Center for Early Childhood Education in 2005, as well as the installation last summer of the 100 kW photovoltaic solar array on the roof of the main campus.  Before that, Phil was part of the biomass project, the 2002 energy conversion that started it all.
The wind project ties in with Governor Deval Patrick's ambitious and historic goal for the Commonwealth - the installation of 2,000 megawatts of wind energy by the year 2020. In September, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles said the state projects at MWCC and the NCCI are helping to meet that goal. Assisting with that effort is DCAM's Energy Efficiency & Sustainable Buildings Group, also known as "The E-Team," within the Office of Facilities Management, led by Hope Davis as director, Jenna Ide as deputy director, and John Crisley, energy planner; as well as the Department of Energy Resources.

Along with the consultant Jacobs Engineering, the E-Team led the study, initial design and procurement. The project at MWCC also involves contracts coordination from DCAM's Office of Finance, the Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance, and the MassDevelopment Finance Agency.

Also on the construction sites here and at NCCI is Laura Nieburg, project manager with Vestas Americas, who is responsible for the equipment from delivery until it's brought online.
“A few years ago, John Scanlan had the vision of getting into renewable energy,” the company’s Andrew Baker explains. The leap from solar installation to wind turbines was an inevitable progression for the 26-year-old construction firm, which last year erected a turbine at a Veterans Administration hospital in St. Cloud, Minn. “It’s largely about surrounding yourself with the proper team, and the team we have here has years and years of experience.” 

Friday, October 15, 2010

MWCC's Wind Turbines Arrive!

The massive components that will make up MWCC's two 1.65 MW wind turbines arrived over a 10-day span from Sept. 21 through Sept. 30, generating currents of excitement as elongated trucks maneuvered onto the Gardner campus to deliver the college's newest renewable energy solution.

"With the turbines, biomass and solar energy, we'll be the most energy-independent college or university in New England. That's money we can put back into the classrooms," President Daniel M. Asquino remarked.

MWCC Resident Engineer Ed Terceiro, executive vice president emeritus, is overseeing the project for the Mount. Construction will continue over the next two months. When completed, the two Vestas V82 wind turbines are expected to produce 4,978 KWh hours of electricity annually. As a result, the turbines will annually generate approximately 97% percent of the college's electricity consumption and will return approximately 30% of the power generated back into the grid.
Witnessing the long-planned project come to fruition is creating an electrical energy on campus, noted Janice Barney, Dean of the School of Business, Science and Technology, "Everyone's excited to see this new venture."

Computer Graphic Design instructor Sonya Shelton viewed the delivery with students, faculty and staff from the building's third floor. "I have to think that this is how people responsed to the first automobiles. For a society that can sometimes seem unfazed by anything new, this is an exception. We've seen it all, except apparently this."

The wind energy projects at MWCC and at the North Central Correctional Institution, also in Gardner, are a joint collaboration of the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and the Department of Energy Resources to achieve the renewable energy goals of Gov. Deval Patrick's Leading by Example program, which calls for increasing the use of renewable power and energy efficiency at state facilities.

MWCC's $9 million wind project is being funded through a variety of sources, including $3.2 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants secured by Congressman John Olver; $2.1 million from a low interest Clean Renewable Energy Bond (CREB) made available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act; and $3.7 million from Massachusetts Clean Energy Investment Bonds.