Visitors to the open house event last weekend had the opportunity to put their names on the first turbine blade to arrive in Port Hardy.

Visitors to the open house event last weekend had the opportunity to put their names on the first turbine blade to arrive in Port Hardy.

Locals give their autographs to a fan

Local residents got a chance to sign off at the Cape Scott Wind Farm open house in Port Hardy last weekend.

PORT HARDY — Local residents got a chance to sign off at the Cape Scott Wind Farm open house in Port Hardy last weekend.

The event, held at Goodspeed Road, gave visitors an update to the ongoing project to build turbines at Knob Hill, and a chance to inspect — and sign their name on — the first huge components to arrive on the North Island.

Recently arrived at the staging area are the base section of a tower and a blade, hauled up from Nanaimo where the rest of the components are being housed.

Each of the fifty five turbines will be hauled up in eight pieces — three tower pieces, three blades, the hub for the blades, and the nacelle, which houses the generating components.

The blades alone are each almost fifty metres in length, and have to be brought up on purpose-designed trailers. When loaded, these rigs are 185 feet long, with steerable rear wheels hydraulically connected to the cab to allow the massive trailer to negotiate corners.

Because the transportation is necessarily oversized to haul such massive components, the bulk of the runs will take place overnight, so as to cause minimum disruption to traffic. Currently the runs are limited but the contractors hope to be able to ramp up the number of runs they are able to do as the project continues.

At the site itself, International Power’s Brian Arsenault described progress as “Good. A little behind on the access roads but we’re doing what we can.”

Work on the access roads is slower than expected due to the large amount of ‘slop’, organic matter on top of the soil which is unsuitable for building on, and so must be cleared along the route. The roads themselves are being built to accommodate the heavy equipment required to transport the components to the site, which will take place after foundations are in place and the bases sufficiently cured.

He explained that the on-site concrete batching plant was in operation and last week workers at the site had begun pouring the concrete foundations for the towers, each requiring a 340 cubic metre base on a 40 cubic metre mud flat.

 

The wind farm, the first such large-scale wind farm on Vancouver Island, is scheduled to begin commercial operations in July of 2013 and is contracted to provide power to BC Hydro for 20 years. The farm is contracted to provide 99mW to BC Hydro, enough to supply 30,000 homes.