Check this out on Chirbit
This is the article I culled from the interview for the Paullina Times.
The signs of a major construction project are everywhere, signs like this, and signs warning of children at play. Increased traffic as trucks and equipment move from site to site.
The O’Brien County turbines, are part of MidAmerican Energy’s Wind VIII project. The total project, which includes several counties will provide more than $3 million dollars in landowner payments and is expected to create more than $360 million dollars in property tax revenues. Supervisor of Wind Operations Adam Jablonski says the project wouldn’t happen without the support of the landowners. “They let us use their land for a certain amount of things and they get financial compensation for that. I think that's number one, we are part of the community, but we are only here because the landowners let us be here.”
The construction process for a wind farm is hard to miss: increased traffic, construction equipment moving from one site to another, it’s not an easy process. The wind farm under construction in O’Brien County will produce 502 megawatts of power for MidAmerican Energy customers. The project is widespread through central O’Brien County. Jablonski says there are 300 unique landowners involved in the project. “ This will be one of the top ten in the United States built in one phase. So, a very large project. The reason it's being spread out over two years is the massive volume. we did construct a 193 turbine project in southwest Iowa and we learned some lessons from there. There was just too much going on at once, it created safety issues.”
How does a project of this scope be a good actor, a good neighbor? Logistics. Jablonski says meeting that challenge with all the different locations of the project is very important and difficult. “Getting all the components, the rebar, and the concrete from place to place. To do that you have to drive a lot of times by households. And so the dust control is a big one, making sure we keep that up and always respecting the local traffic or the farm traffic. I know a lot of the crews will either slow down or completely pull over when local traffic is on the same road.”
While chemical dust control is applied in front of acreages, Mortenson Construction also applies water to control the dust elsewhere on roads that are being heavily travelled at different stages of the project.
There are signs that safety is also a top priority, overhead wire signs whenever construction traffic will have to cross under a wire, either while going down the road or when turning onto an access road. They have also installed “watch for children” signs on either side of acreages that have young children. Site Lead Shannon Bell says that crews will be mowing around those signs and maintaining them through the summer so that they will remain highly visible.
Construction is scheduled to be finished by the end of next year. The last several weeks have been a challenge because of rain delays. Bell says it takes 24 hours to drain each foundation and wash the rebar. Bell says the wet conditions have slowed the work. He says the focus is on working safely, so everyone slows down and helps each other out more. “We take it slow and safe, that’s our policy.” He gave some examples, such as tasks that are a one person job in ideal conditions become a two man job when the footing is muddy and slick. The rains have slowed construction this summer, and the project will again slow in the winter when it gets too cold.
To meet the construction goal of the end of 2015, the work is done methodically with crews focusing on specific segments of construction. For example there is one crew that builds the access roads, another that digs the foundations, and yet others who install rebar, and concrete.
Jablonski says the workers definitely respect their neighbors. “But, keep your eyes open. There's going to be a lot more traffic going up and down the roads than what everyone is used to. As much as we try to be safe, we ask the land owners and residents of the area to keep that watchful eye out there. Midamerican has the job trailers out there and we have a 1800 wind hotline, if you see a safety issue or have any questions feel free to call or stop in and we’ll address your issues or questions.”