Motorists may find the highway a little quieter since the last gigantic pieces of wind farm equipment left Port Hardy last week and were transported to the Knob Hill site.
But Holberg Road will continue to hum as workers ferry back and forth to the site to assemble the towers.
Rotarians were given a tour of the area last weekend and learned 42 of the 55 towers are now fully assembled, with the remaining 13 in progress.
Each tower is comprised of seven major pieces: three tower sections, the three blades and the nacelle, which houses the gear system and generating equipment.
Erecting the mammoth pieces is a delicate operation, requiring a pair of cranes; one crawler and one larger crane which is disassembled for transport to each tower site.
Once on site, the larger crane is reassembled and used to lift the 7,200-l.b nacelle to its perch atop the tower. The blades are then ‘flown’ — raised up — to the hub and bolted in place, work which due to the blades’ design requires relatively calm winds.
Although 42 towers are now fully assembled, the blades are feathered into the wind to prevent them turning. The completed towers are capable of producing electricity now, but the infrastructure to carry that power to the grid is still under construction.
Excepting testing, the towers will remain effectively offline until work is completed on the farm, the substation and on the transmission line which will carry the power.
As work continues on the transmission line, GDF Suez plans to use that infrastructure to carry a fibre-optic line from Port Hardy to the site, enabling an array of remote command and control options to operators.
The wind farm is scheduled to go operational in October when it will start pumping out up to 99mW of green energy from the North Island site, providing enough electricity to power 26,000 homes.
By the end of this year the North Island will, in all likelihood, be powered by green energy since the electricity will be flowing south.
Unfortunately though, this does not mean that the North Island will be immune from outages in the future. Should an outage occur that cuts off the area, the blades will feather and come to a halt by design since the farm has lost connection to the grid.
While the option exists to expand the project to a second phase, preliminary planning and costing needs to be completed before the North Island will learn whether the expansion will become a reality.
Once the first phase is completed the area will be reopened to the public to come and inspect the mammoth towers. At the moment, GDF Suez asks that the public avoid the active construction site for safety reasons.