Wind turbines dot the Kevin Rim skyline
Spring has given way to summer in north central Montana and that means wind turbines sprouting up along the skyline of the Kevin Rim. To date, 11 complete turbines have been erected on the southwest part of the project area with an additional 17 sets of components ready for erection. More sets of components are being delivered from the staging areas and factories to the turbine locations each day.
June rains brought much needed moisture to the area, but slowed construction due to the heavy rains and lightning storms. However, the project continues to be on schedule and the date for energizing the wind farm is only a few months away.
June construction statistics:
- 11 Turbines completed; 11 to date of total 126 (9%)
Turbine component deliveries in June
- 17 towers delivered (Base, Mid & Top sections); 28 to date of total 126 (22%)
- 25 hubs delivered; 31 to date of total 126 (25%)
- 19 nacelles delivered; 30 to date of total 126 (24%)
- 18 blade sets (3 blades) delivered; 30 to date of total 126 (24%)
- 32 foundations completed; 97 to date of total 126 (77%)
- 14 miles of road cut in and rocked; 40 mi to date of total 45 mi (89%)
- 305 workers on site
The project is currently on schedule
Significant Project events - June:
Executives and partners visit NaturEner Montana Operations:
During the last week of June, the Rim Rock Wind Farm had a visit from NaturEner leadership, financial lenders, energy off-takers and tax equity partners for the project. Executives from Morgan Stanley, MSCG, SDG&E, WAPA and NaturEner toured the Rim Rock site to see the construction progress and meet with the teams. The group also toured the Glacier Wind projects and got to witness important safety training. All parties were greatly pleased with the overall on-schedule progress of the project and were impressed with the Glacier Wind operation. They were even treated to some of the strong winds in the area as a summer storm passed through. The event was a great time for executive partners from all stakeholders to meet face to face and see the physical realization of years of hard work coming to fruition.
Electricity collection systems update:
When electricity is generated by the wind turbines, it is transmitted to a substation where it is sent to the power grid. These substations house step-up transformers, breakers and voltage equipment to ensure that the electricity is properly fed to the electrical grid to power tens of thousands of homes and businesses.
The east and west substations have seen the installation of the 34.5 kilovolt breakers and the steel and bus work are almost finished. The main power transformer for the west substation was moved into place right at the end of June and is currently being dressed out by the manufacturer.
Project buildings construction update:
Once the turbines are installed and operating, they will need to be managed and maintained. The Operations and Maintenance facility will be the heart of that process. Regular and corrective maintenance as well as parts and consumables staging are all performed at the O&M building. The foundation and frame of the building have been finished with the target date for completion scheduled for early September.
Turbine construction updates:
Wind Turbine construction has continued at the site. Eleven turbines have been erected to date with components for an additional 17 turbines having been delivered. The turbine components are lifted into place by massive 600 ton cranes. Once the foundation is complete and the components delivered, it takes the crews about 1 day of work to erect the turbine. With two crews running, the maximum is two (2) turbines per day.
The eagle and raptor point count surveys continued in June with no eagles observed within the project footprint. The first steps were taken on June 19th to update the land use assessment to determine available raptor prey habitat within the project footprint. NaturEner’s consultant flew the second half of the aerial raptor nest survey on June 20 and 21 verifying production and the locations of the nests. Six productive golden eagle nests and 40 productive ferruginous hawk nests were confirmed as being in the general area but none of them were identified as being within the project footprint. In addition, it was observed that raptors do not appear to frequent or forage for prey within the project footprint. The next four to six weeks should see the chicks of those raptors learning to fly and hunt for food. Soon, they will leave the nest and survive on their own.
With the on-site crew operating efficiently, the construction processes are moving along swiftly. The coming months will see the completion of the O&M building and the project substations as well as even more turbines dotting the skyline… waiting to harness the Montana wind.