At the Bear Creek Wind Farm on Bald Mountain construction project manager Ed DeJarnette placed the towers of wind turbines on top of an almost solid rock foundation. The foundation was designed as an inverted T, 54 feet across at the bottom and 14 feet at the top, surrounded by backfill to hold it in place. The wide foundations allowed the towers to be relatively narrow, only 15 feet at the base and 11 feet at the top.
Building the tower was easy, like tinker toy construction, compared to the difficulty of trucking turbine parts into the mountains during winter. Trailers as long as 180 feet snaked around hairpin curves and up a slippery, snowy road to the top.
The construction team worked closely with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to protect pristine creek waters from dirt and sand runoff during construction. Studies revealed a minimal impact on wildlife; in this area birds tend to gather in the valley for food and warmth, and not many bats are found on the ridge.
To determine capacity before construction began, the project team collected wind information from three meteorological towers. They found winds blew hard enough to be profitable, i.e., from the southwest for 30 to 60 miles an hour for more than eight hours out of 24. If 12 turbines spun at once, they could produce a maximum of 2 megawatts apiece, enough electricity to light up a fairly large town.
The wind turns a fairly large blade on a turbine that spins a shaft connected to a generator that makes electricity. This electricity enters an electric company's grid via a high-powered line down the mountain. The electrical power flows where it's needed like water in a hose. If there's extra power, it can be sold elsewhere.
Two companies own Bear Creek Wind Farm and sell portions of what they own to investors. To build the wind farm the owners leased private land directly from five property owners. The construction project manager feels it's easier from a business point of view to work out deals with private property owners than with the owners of public land, i.e. voters. Voters might question the location of a wind farm on public land for a variety of reasons.
Your community has received a proposal from a company that wants to place a wind farm, much like the Bear Creek Wind Farm, on your public land. At a town meeting the mayor asks citizens to express their opinions of how the construction will affect both the land and people socially, environmentally, and economically. Take the point of view of each of the following people and make a case for or against the wind farm.
You and your grandmother live near the entrance to the proposed site. You raise border collies that sometimes run free. You've heard that during the construction, big trucks will be rumbling past your land. Do you want a wind farm as a neighbor?
You run a hotel and a small restaurant in the town near the Bear Creek Wind Farm. As a business person, how do you feel about this initiative?
You are a teenager who cares deeply about the environment. What are some short and long-term issues you feel should be considered?
Think of some other instances of a successful inverted T design. For example, an anchor for a boat is essentially an inverted T. Explain why you think an inverted T design works.
As a construction project manager, Ed DeJarnette had to make sure his project came in on time and on budget. In some ways his job was easy and in others it was close to impossible. What do you think was the hardest part of his job and why?
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