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.