According to AWEA,. Q1 2011 alone saw 1,100 MW of new wind-power capacity installed with another 5,600 MW under construction. The Butler Ridge Wind Farm in Mayville, Wis., is adding to these figures. Built on the Niagara escarpment, a ridge that originates in Ontario, Canada, and continues through Wisconsin, the wind farm is comprised of 36, 1.5-MW wind turbines on 80-m towers and a site that measures some five by two miles.
“For maximum wind power, the owners constructed the turbines along a place on the ridge that reaches an elevation of about 1,200 ft,” says Rich Vander Heiden, project manager for Menasha, Wis.-based Faith Technologies. The electrical and specialty systems contractor performed the project’s in-tower wiring and installed the turbine foundation conduits and turbine ground grid.
Foundation conduits and grounding for the project consisted of installing two ground rings with 600 MCM copper, 5-in. power conduits, and 2-in. PVC communication conduits for each tower site, says Vander Heiden.
Foundations were a two-part installation. They included an upper and a lower concrete mat, with requirements for conduits and grounding. While one lower mat was being completed, an upper mat was being poured at another site. Once the routine was established, crews worked out a system so material was sorted out for the next day’s activity.
Project challenges include ground rods that had to be driven 20-ft down. Also, two areas required drilling and blasting to excavate rock to reach a required depth.
“In-tower wiring presented another challenge because it was something Faith Technologies had not previously encountered,” says Vander Heiden. “Worker safety is paramount in our planning. Because of Faith Technologies’ experience with cell towers, we have an in-house instructor on high-tower rescue who certified each climber prior to working on the project. Each day, our safety harnesses and tooling were thoroughly inspected before any climbing,” says Vander Heiden.
The project’s final leg took place once the general contractor assembled the tower sections. At that time, several six-man crews from Faith Technologies lowered power and control cabling from the top section to the down-tower assembly. The company finished its part of the Butler Ridge Wind Farm project on time and without a safety incident.
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