BLUE?EARTH - When you're building wind turbines, you have to do a lot to prepare the ground to hold those large structures, says Dustin Shively, project engineer with Exergy Development Group of Idaho.
The Big Blue Wind Farm will have 18 turbines between Guckeen and Blue Earth, north of County Road 16. The work is set to be completed in 2012. Fagan Inc. already has been hard at it to make it happen.
Already done is grading roads and widening intersections to ease getting the big rigs to the field sites, Shively said. The turbine towers come in three pieces, each delivered on a single truck, so they need lots of room to maneuver.
WORK?PROGRESSING?— A worker checks the dirt around a concrete base that will support a wind turbine at the Big Blue Wind Farm project in Faribault County.
The spots where the turbines will stand have been excavated and foundations poured. Workers also have trenched collection lines, and Shively was grateful to have that done before the ground froze. But he's not worried about putting up the turbines themselves in the winter.
"Erecting turbines in the middle of winter is fine with the ground frozen," he said. "I wouldn't want to erect turbines when it's muddy."
The collection lines running underground are important, he said. The energy will run from the turbine through the collection lines to a substation, then out to the transmission lines.
"We just have to make a path from the generator to your light bulb," Shively said.
Most of the sites are ready. Those that are not soon will be, he said.
The next step is delivery of the components, such as the tower sections and the blades, but no date has been set.
"We'll start erecting the turbine tower," Shively said. "We'll put together the blades, all three together, on the ground. Then lift the three as one and attach it.
"Once the turbine is up, it's the stuff on the inside," he said. "A million internal things in the turbine to be connected and ready to go."
Of course, as with anything in Minnesota, the weather plays a huge role in the timing of this venture.
"If it's too windy, you can't put up a turbine on that day," Shively said.
Even though the physical work is just beginning, a lot of preliminary work went in before the earth was ever touched.
"This is really one of the projects that took the cooperation of the community," Shively said. "Really a group effort to get it going and done effectively. I've really felt like we had the support of the community. That was what was good about this project."