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New York Wind Farm Provides Power Upstate

Tue August 02, 2011 - Northeast Edition
Mary Reed

Wind energy has been harvested for centuries for such purposes as filling the sails of ships, raising water on farmlands and grinding grain. There are even instructions left by a first century mathematician on how to construct an organ run by wind power, and many of the Old Master paintings feature windmills in their backgrounds.

Nowadays wind energy has even more to recommend it, given wind farms provide construction, manufacturing and operating jobs as well as increased revenues in the form of land lease payments and property taxes. It also is “green”, operating without the damage to the environment that can be caused by alternative sources such as gas and oil drilling or coal-mining. And best of all, wind-produced energy is freely available and will never run out.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) New York state occupies the eighth place nation-wide for wind capacity — meaning facilities built and power generated — and it is in this state that one of the newest wind farms is now operational.

Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction Inc. handled the balance of plant construction, including roads, foundations and erection, for the Hardscrabble Wind Farm. Situated in the towns of Norway, Fairfield and Little Falls in Herkimer County, upstate New York, the project was developed, and is owned and operated, by Iberdrola Renewables, Inc., of Portland, OR.

Since entering the renewable energy market in 1995, Mortenson Construction has become a leading builder of wind power facilities in North America, having erected nearly 7,000 wind turbines that generate approximately 11,000 megawatts of power in 27 states and provinces throughout North America. The company also constructs solar power, geothermal and hydroelectric facilities and is a leading provider of transmission and distribution infrastructure.

The Hardscrabble Wind Farm is one of the first in the country to feature 328 ft. (100 m) high wind turbine towers. It sits on a 6,550 acre site with a western boundary along Hardscrabble Road, hence the wind farm’s striking name, and consists of 37 Gamesa 2.0-megawatt wind turbines with a generating capacity of 74 megawatts, enough to supply electricity to more than 25,000 homes. Twelve turbines were erected in Norway, with the remainder located in Fairfield.

The job involved construction of foundations for the turbines, an operations and maintenance building, two 328 ft. high meteorological towers, 14 mi. (22.5 km) of gravel access roads, and a substation, plus placement of 20.5 mi. (33 km) of underground electric lines. In addition, the companies involved are repairing damage from construction traffic on local and county roads.

Erosion and sedimentation control and stabilization of disturbed areas also were undertaken. These measures are required by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) for all commercial wind projects. Mitigation of disturbed wetlands was carried out by creation of a new wetland of a larger area than that disturbed. In addition, no in-stream work was permitted during trout spawning and incubation, which runs between Oct. 1 and June 1.

The project began in June 2010 with access road construction and local road improvements. A staging area for equipment, aggregates and storage was built on State Route 170, with a concrete plant nearby. About 200 construction jobs were involved in the project. Now online, the wind farm is operated by six technicians and in addition warranty staff from the turbine vendor are on site during the warranty period.

JPW Riggers Inc., based in Syracuse, N.Y., played a number of roles in the project, including supplying Mortenson Construction with cranes to assist in the construction of foundations, off-loading turbine parts, and setting the base and lower middle sections of the five-section turbine towers.

“We supplied Grove rough terrain 890E 90 ton capacity cranes and Manitowoc 16000 440 ton crawler cranes,” said Donald A. Feola, vice-president of JPW Crane Rental. “We also worked for turbine manufacturer Gamesa Corporation, based in Langhorne, Pa., receiving, storing, and shipping tower sections from our Syracuse facility, off-loading them with a 300 ton Link-Belt 348 Hylab-5 crawler crane and JPW riggers.”

JPW’s Structural Contracting Division contracted with project owner Iberdrola Renewables to design and fabricate sub-station structural steel. MJ Electric Inc., based in Iron Mountain, Mich., was electrical contractor for the job and the tower sections were manufactured in Manitowoc, Wis., by Tower Tech Systems.

JPW also contracted with BNSF Railroad for off-loading and shipping Gamesa nacelles from the port of Oswego, N.Y., as well as with Iron Mountain, Mich., based Systems Control, a division of Northern Star Industries Inc., to off-load and set in place the switch buildings for the sub-station. Each of the three prefabricated sections weighs 40,000 lbs. (18,143 kg), and JSW utilized a Liebherr 200 ton (181 t) hydraulic truck crane for the job.

“Renewable and wind energy is one way to lessen the use of oil,” Feola stated. “It has also created the largest number U.S. manufacturing jobs in recent years. Many wind turbine manufacturers have opened large facilities, such as Gamesa’s Pennsylvania facilities, which built the turbines for this project.”

In addition to job creation, the Hardscrabble wind power project will make a number of one-time and recurring payments to landowners and local jurisdictions over the life of the project. Annual payments to the jurisdictions, which include the towns of Fairfield, Norway and Little Falls, the West Canada School District, the city of Little Falls School District and Herkimer County, will total approximately $592,000, and escalate with inflation. Annual lease payments to participating landowners are projected to average $650,000 a year for the life of the project.

Several one-time payments also will be made to these jurisdictions as part of the negotiated PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes). The following construction period PILOT payments also will be made: $400,000 to Herkimer County, about $230,000 to the West Canada School District, about $13,000 to the Little Falls School District, $100,000 each to the town of Fairfield and the town of Norway. A fee to the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) of Herkimer County of approximately $500,000 also will be paid.

Though the economic impact of the construction period is still being analysed, Iberdrola Renewables began construction with the following estimated expenditures:

• More than $3 million on local goods and services such as lodging, meals and food

• More than $6 million on materials sourced within New York, including rebar, construction material, and equipment

• More than $5 million on wages for New York workers

In addition, local sales tax payments totaled $1.1 million.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has awarded the project, via competitive solicitation, a long term contract to purchase of the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) generated by the project.

The state Renewable Portfolio Standard employs a central procurement model for RECs, and the state is buying those generated at the Hardscrabble Wind Farm as part of the state mechanism to meet its legislated renewable energy goals.

An additional though unanticipated economic benefit of the wind farm, most likely due to general interest in this renewable type of resource, is a rise in the number of tourists in the area since the project began.

About the Companies

Headquartered in Syracuse, N.Y., JPW Riggers Inc. was founded in 1953 and operates crawler, hydraulic, and rough terrain cranes up to 650 tons (590 t). Its sister company, JPW Erectors, holds certification by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) as an Advanced Certified Steel Erector. In 2007 and 2008 JPW’s Structural Contracting Division placed first in AISC rankings for job site safety. Past notable joint projects include four buildings at the Department of Homeland Security’s port of Massena, N.Y., and the main structure for the Hartford Insurance Group in Hartford, N.Y.

For more information, visit

Founded in 1954, Mortenson Construction is a U.S.-based, family-owned construction company. Ranked as the 19th largest contractor in America and the 11th largest power contractor, according to Engineering News-Record, Mortenson provides a complete range of services, including planning, program management, preconstruction, general contracting, construction management, design-build and turnkey development. Mortenson has offices in Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Seattle, with international operations in Canada and China.

For more information, visit http://www.mortenson.

com. CEG

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