Posted 8/30/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
The wind turbines are coming.
According to Conor Branch, business development manager with Enel Green Power North America, the trucks carrying the nacelles, blades, and towers are going to be coming down U.S. 2 and N.D. 40 starting this week.
Enel Green Power is the company behind the construction of the Lindahl Wind Farm north of Tioga.
The project consists of 75 2-megawatt wind towers.
This will be Enel’s first wind farm in North Dakota, and Branch said the company is very excited about the project.
When the first readings from the meteorological towers came in last year during the project’s planning, developers said the wind resource in North Dakota shouldn’t be underestimated.
Branch said that continues to be the case with all the readings they’ve taken from the towers since.
“We’ve been very pleased with the readings,” Branch said.
Branch said the company is planning to deliver from their staging yard in Williston 10 full turbines per week.
That will mean eight weeks of transport up the highways to the project site.
Each tower is composed of a few tower pieces, three blades, and a nacelle.
With about 70 semis hauling large pieces up the highways each week, it will be hard to miss them.
Despite all the traffic, Branch said they are not anticipating any road closures, and the industrial hauling won’t be anything the area isn’t accustomed to.
The company is also taking steps to protect the county roads.
During the project’s development, a series of agreements were signed with the county on how to minimize impacts to the townships and restore the roads after the project’s completion.
They are also taking “robust” dust control measures on the county roads, Branch said.
Branch said there are currently 180 employees working on the site, and that will peak out at about 200. After completion, they are anticipating about 10 full-time employees to operate the wind farm.
The majority of these workers are staying in Tioga hotels or other nearby accommodations.
“They’re working long hours out there, and they want to cut down on travel time,” Branch said.
And that will translate into patronage of local eating establishments, grocery stores, and other businesses.
Starting about the middle of September the first towers will be visible from the highway and the company expects to be generating power by the end of the year.
Branch said the 150-megawatt wind farm is about a mid-sized farm from what you’d see in this kind of rural territory. They tend to be smaller as you go east, where populations are much more dense.
The company currently operates 17 wind farms across five states, including a 200-megawatt and a 30-megawatt farm in Minnesota.
Branch said with operations in northern Minnesota, the company is experienced operating wind turbines in the kinds of climates North Dakota has.
“We feel comfortable we can operate safely and deliver power reliably to North Dakota residents,” Branch said.