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Clearing for wind farm to start


September 22, 2010
LANCASTER — Details on the timing of employment opportunities and the quantity of materials that will be produced or purchased locally early in the construction process for the Granite Reliable Power (GRP) project are now available.

Brushing and tree-cutting to clear land for building a road system and the small spaces needed for the installation of GRP's 33 wind turbines will begin once the ground is frozen, likely in January 2011, said project manager Pip Decker of Noble Environmental Power, the major investor in the 99-megawatt wind farm. Working on frozen ground will make less of an impact than would starting these clearing activities at an earlier date, he said in a Thursday afternoon interview. "This allows us to fulfill our pledge to be good stewards by our being as light on the land as possible," Mr. Decker said.

With all needed permits in hand, the project is still on course to be completed by the end of 2011.

Roads will be built or improved in Millsfield, Dixville, and Dummer, and space cleared for construction of a laydown yard and 5,000 square-foot operations and maintenance building in Dummer. The work will be done as a single project with multiple logging crews under contract, Mr. Decker said, rather than by a single crew starting in Dummer working its way west and north to the turbine sites.

"We know that people are looking for steady work, so rather than having the clearing done sporadically in a start-and-stop fashion, we opted to wait until the ground is frozen," he explained.

On-site survey crews are now flagging these corridors and spaces to establish the precise limits of disturbance to conform to the project's permits, Mr. Decker said. Flagging provides visual indicators for workers that are based on precise GPS (Global Positioning System) data.

All these details are under the aegis of RMT, Inc., of Madison, Wisc., which was selected in mid-May by Noble to engineer and construct the GRP wind farm.

RMT is providing engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) to support the installation of 33 Vestas V90 3.0-megawatt wind turbines. The civil infrastructure includes roads, crane walks and pads, and turbine foundations. RMT will also design and construct the electrical infrastructure, including a 34.5-kV overhead and underground collection system and a 5.8-mile 115-kV overhead power line. RMT will also be responsible for tower erection.

Steve LaFrance and his team at Horizons Engineering of Littleton have completed 90 percent of the IFC — issuance for construction — the determination of the quantity of materials needed to complete the project.

The project will entail the use of 3,000 yards of concrete, most of which will be used in Dummer with some to be used at the 33 turbine pads on ridgelines.

Approximately 150,000 tons of rock and gravel will be used, some of which will be crushed on site and some brought in from within the area, Mr. Decker said. RMT is in the process of discussing its needs with four or five area suppliers.

A total of 650 tons of rebar and steel will be used on the project, he said.

After RMT was selected, Frank Greb, its general manager and vice president, said in a press release, "We are working closely with Noble Environmental to maximize the use of local construction materials and to tap into the area's labor pool."

As it has at its other wind farm projects, Noble has tried to be a good neighbor in the communities in which it operates, Mr. Decker said. CEO Walt Howard came up to Cos to participate in the Lancaster Rotary Club tournament on Friday at the Waumbek Golf Course in Jefferson, in which the company sponsored a hole.

Mr. Decker maintains his office in the Old Court House in Lancaster.

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