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.